On the one hand, we harness Christmas "in" the church as a platform to attract people to our church. On the other hand, the retail world harnesses the "spirit" of Christmas so people will buy stuff. Not so sure there is a shade of difference between these two idolatries. I am convinced, however, that our tamed version of the Christmas story is truly unable to save to the uttermost, to deliver men and women from the deep despair, selfishness, suffering, and sordid wounds that scar our souls and minds.
As my daughter once reminded me, after a long ago now forgotten Christmas Eve service, we cannot avoid the fact that the Christmas story begins and ends in a death sentence—at every turn someone wants Jesus dead.
Yet, we have so tamed the original (Matthew and Luke) story and have made it more palatable to fit on a Hallmark card or as background muzak for our Christmas season shopping experience at all the big box stores stores.
There is lament blended with the angelic choir declaring peace and joy; and, it is only through this lament (found in Mary’s song and in Rachel’s cry) that this joy and peace may come. Or, found in that all too easily passed over lamentful promise to Mary by Simeon, the old man in the temple after Jesus’ circumcision, who said,
The wretchedness of humanity and the deep wounds of our neighbors are not cured by our tamed, commercialized Christmas story.
Think more deeply about Christmas.
Chip M. Anderson, advocate for biblical social action; pastor of an urban church plant in the Hill neighborhood of New Haven, CT; husband, father, author, former Greek & NT professor; and, 19 years involved with social action.