Dear friends in Christ,
This is about the time of year when I notice people online complaining about Christmas decorations appearing in stores and malls. I have even been known to join in these complaints.
The last few years, I haven’t actually minded. I’ve had a bit of an attitude change, and I want to invite you to reconsider your reaction if you see red when you see the red & green.
As I read in someone’s post several years ago, “It isn’t the job of commerce to keep the feasts. That’s what church is for.” In other words, we shouldn’t expect the mall to put up and take down their Christmas decorations according to the liturgical calendar. We do that in our churches and homes.
If I wanted to take a cynical view, I could get upset that people at the mall are trying to commercialize Jesus’ birth. Outrageous! But is it? Their job is to sell stuff. It’s our choice whether or not we buy. It’s our choice how we practice our Christmas faith. It’s our choice how we teach our children about presents and Christmas.
I try to take a more generous view now, though I confess I’m not always successful. Seeing Christmas decorations—even completely secular ones—in public offers us an occasion to talk about Jesus. “Jesus is the reason for the season” is a cliché, but it’s not wrong.
You won’t find a Christmas tree at our house until Christmas—but you will see an “Advent shrub” for most of December. You won’t find me playing Christmas music in the car before Christmastide. But when I’m out and around, I’m glad to hum along and enjoy some holiday festivity. Maybe I’ll even try to find a way to have a conversation or two about why we celebrate Christmas. And if we can manage that, isn’t it a blessing?
I’m not wishing people a merry Christmas yet, but I’m trying not to be the Grinch. How about you?
Image by Scott Gunn
Today’s Flash Sale: I Witness
Many of us have heard the story of Jesus’ birth, but have we lived inside it? Episcopal priest Kate Moorehead invites us to enter the story of salvation with our hearts and minds wide open, experiencing the miracle of Jesus through the eyes of witnesses: Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the wise men, and others. And Moorehead encourages us to bear witness ourselves—both then and now—to the marvel and majesty of a babe born in a manger, of Christ our King. These daily devotionals offer a companion through the seasons of Advent and Christmas and urge us to keep reading, keep listening, keep learning. The story of Christ’s birth can be both familiar and new in each re-telling. Come and see.
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