I know, I know, I know. Every year we complain about how much earlier the stores begin their Christmas push. We all do it. So much so that complaining about it has become one of our holiday traditions. You would think that we wouldn’t be surprised anymore by how soon the Christmas selling season begins. But, my goodness! Costco had their Christmas stuff out over a month ago. (And of course, we bought some of it “just in case it won’t be there next time.”) One store I was in last week was already playing Christmas music. Last week! A full week before Halloween.
Now, if the early Christmas start was in truth a genuine and sincere celebration of the fact that our Creator God became one of us so that we could know him and know how much he loves us, then I say, let’s start Christmas even earlier. How about all year round?
But we all know that celebrating the birth of the Divine Savior is an admirable but disingenuous motive, just a veneer pasted on a marketing strategy. The unstated message of this strategy is that because Jesus was born, if we really care about our friends and family, we will buy them many expensive gifts to celebrate his birth. And if we don’t buy them many expensive gifts, then we really don’t love them or care about them. You do see that this message is irrational, don’t you? Gift-giving is a poor substitute for truly loving and truly caring for others. And if gifts are to be given in celebration of the birth of Jesus, they should be given to him, the one who gave himself to us.
Please understand, I’m in favor of giving each other gifts. It’s a very nice thing to do. But I’ve often thought that if we gave our gifts to each other on New Year’s Day instead of Christmas Day, it would help us keep our Christmas celebration focused on the true reason that we celebrate, that God so loved the world that he gave his son.
However, I seriously doubt that moving our holiday gift-giving to New Year’s Day is ever going to catch on. So instead, we are providing you with two opportunities to resist the marketing strategy of a commercialized Christmas and stay focused on the One whose coming we celebrate. Operation Christmas Child is an opportunity to give a gift to Jesus by supporting his mission in the world: to draw boys and girls and men and women into a life-giving relationship with himself. Advent Conspiracy is an opportunity to redirect our Christmas energies into worshiping Jesus fully, spending less so as to free up our resources to support things that really matter, giving more intentionally and relationally, and radically loving others like Jesus did.
If you can get started on these two opportunities as early as the stores begin their Christmas push, it will help make your holidays holy days.
See you Sunday,