It starts at the end of August. School sales began in July and are now winding down. Soon it will be Halloween, which has become a season of its own. The candy goes on the shelves just before Labor Day and is replaced by Christmas candy a couple of days before October 31. I think Thanksgiving is in there somewhere; nobody has quite figured out how to create a cartoon hero and plush toy to represent that day yet, but they are probably trying. By November 1st (if we are lucky), the Christmas ads and decorations are all over the place; I’ve seen some houses with light displays already, having replaced the purple and orange lights to celebrate All Hallow’d E’en (not sure when that became a thing). And then Christmas will be done before you know it, making way by December 20-ish for Cupid’s arrow to guide the way for your heart to meet your soul mate; or at least, to buy cards for your kid’s classmates. The Holiday Season, ladies and gentlemen.
Meanwhile, we in the church are trying to hold on to the sacredness of Advent and actual Christmas, not to mention the holy remembrance of the saints and the celebration of the kingdom of God. We haven’t spoken a single name of our beloved fellow followers of Jesus who have entered into the heavenly kingdom before we are bombarded by fake Christmas; inundated with songs about reindeer, phony Santa, and animated snow people. We get pressured to sing Christmas carols even though there is still an entire month to prepare for Jesus’s birth; Mary and Joseph get little recognition for the difficult decisions they had to make to bring God into the world. And if you aren’t Christian or pseudo-Christian, there is little room for your holy days. Just like there’s little room for Jesus.
And there it is – my first anti-secular “Christmas” rant of the fall. I will do my best to keep my inner cynic under control for the next 6 weeks; a task I struggle to achieve every year. Why? Because if some of us don’t hold on to our faith, who will? And it isn’t that we shouldn’t do all the other fun things that make life good; we should ooh and aah at the great costumes. We should revel in the many ways Thanksgiving dinner is arrayed. We should enjoy shopping for gifts for loved ones. And Christmas cards? Let’s bring them back.
But we who see Christmas as something more than 5 crooners crooning and 4 cartoon characters dancing need to keep Jesus at the center of the day. We should be filling our churches every Sunday to express our devotion and grow in our faith. We should be able to live our faith and be part of the rest of life too; we can follow Jesus while attending sporting events and having lunch with friends. Most of our church members have chosen the holidays over the Holy Days, and it is adding to the demise of the institutions they claim to love. You can enjoy the sappy Hallmark movies and light the Advent Wreath; it is both/and, not either/or. For the church to continue to do its good work in the world, followers of Jesus need to stop worshipping at the feet of secularism and resume their devotion to God. Our faith matters to the world; we should be living it better than we have.
Prayer – As we end this Christian year, we seek to honor You, God of infinite grace and love. We want to keep Christ in Christmas. Amen.