“Only one more shopping day until Christmas.” I remember hearing that phrase as a kid – and needing to have it explained to me by my Mom. Even then, I thought it weird that the task of gift-buying was given such an up-front reference.
Maybe I was touchy about it because I grew up loving the Charlie Brown Christmas special. Since I I can remember, I have always considered Charlie Brown a kindred spirit, longing for the “true meaning of Christmas” in a world saturated in materialism. Toward the end of the show, Charlie Brown says in an aside, “I won’t let all this commercialism ruin my Christmas.” That’s right, CB! You tell ‘em! Let’s rise above it all, and turn this holy-day into a Jesus-focused, worship filled season!
Then, I make the list of Christmas presents I need to buy, hike to the mall, and engage in the ridiculous ritual of purchasing gifts that people don’t need, with money that I don’t have. Why? I confess…it’s not because I simply want to give gifts. And there is virtually no genuinely spiritual motivation – like imitating the Magi, or celebrating the tradition of St. Nicholas. Nope…for the most part, I buy things because I’ve been convinced that if I don’t, then I’m a Scrooge. And I have to make sure I spend enough on them to match how important they are to me. Oh, and it needs to be a wonderful, creative gift, or else it’s all for naught anyway.
Does anyone else see that we have been manipulated to make these purchases by a media-infested, capitalistic, greedy culture that cares absolutely nothing about Jesus? Don’t you hear them speak about whether or not this is a “good” Christmas based on “consumer confidence” and “holiday sales”? And isn’t it astonishing that Christian after Christian follows this cultural paradigm like lemmings to the sea, even though it runs counter to the teaching of the Word of God on multiple points? God says bless the poor – we bless those we like who are in our network. God says daily bread, food and shelter, is enough – but we line our homes, garages and mini-storages with piles of stuff. God says share the gospel – we table to gospel to keep the friction of unbelief away from our cozy gatherings. It’s as though we collectively lose our spiritual minds.
It makes sense to me that Christians should observe the holy days very differently. But I, like so many others, feel the pull of the commercial holiday so profoundly that it seems there is no escaping it. At least not without being called a Grinch.
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith.” (1 Pet. 5:8-9). Our enemy is clever…and when we see Him on the prowl, he must be resisted!
And here is Martin Luther’s commentary: “So are we now on earth, where the prince is an evil spirit and has the hearts of men in his power, doing with them what he will. It is a fearful thought if we properly consider it. Therefore Peter warns us to … know the state of things here! … If we then are fools and regard him not, but go on and take no heed, then he has as good as seized us … it is so sad for us that we go about so heedlessly.”
I think that’s it for tonight. Praying that I, and hopefully a community of others, have not be irretrievably seized, and will have the boldness to observe Advent and Christmastide in increasingly godly ways.
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