Saturday, December 3, 2011

Rediscover Christmas

What if we rediscovered Christmas?  I know we think we know Christmas, but did you know that the feast of the nativity was a minor observance in the Christian year until the mid-nineteenth century when commercial interests figured out how to exploit it solely for profit. In 1823, Clement Moore’s popular poem, “A Visit from Saint Nicolas” (later known as The Night Before Christmas) also contributed to the American mythology of Christmas: St. Nicholas morphed into Santa, and reindeer, stockings, and sugar plums entered the story at this time.  It is interesting that what was once a modest observance of Christ’s mass in honor of the holy child’s birth, became such a full blown extravaganza – complete with our giving gifts to ourselves. 

Christians claim Christmas as a religious holiday, and much has been said about ‘keeping Christ in Christmas,’ but we are the worst when it comes to the commercialization of the holiday.  We shop, spend, decorate, and generally go over the top with barely a second thought to the Christ of Christmas.  The Christ of the manger was a child born to peasant parents who had no human dwelling to birth their child.  Christ was born in a time of political unrest, oppression and persecution.  The Christ of the manger grew up to question the political and religious powers that kept people living in poverty.  That Christ Child turned everything upside down and right side up, even to the point of turning over merchant’s tables in the Temple.

Over the years our sentimentality has softened this Christ who stood in the way of the political machine ultimately to his death, into one that is almost…well…cuddly.  We have taken every childhood story of Christ with the children, and as adults we still cling to that soft, cuddly Christ conveniently forgetting that we claim the name and the faith, but not the commission, take up our crosses, go to all the world, spreading a message of an upside down Kingdom that to those who think they know – seems foolish. 

This Advent season, let us rediscover Christmas.  Let us discover what it means to worship fully, spend less, give more and love all.  Let us remember that Christmas is not OUR birthday.  Let us buy one less present and use the money we would have spent on that present to give to a ministry or charity.  Let’s commit ourselves to attend worship.  Let us agree to spend more quality time with those whom we would buy presents for and spend less money.  Let us rededicate ourselves to the calling of Christ to take up our crosses and to love all. 

May your Advent and Christmas season be happy and blessed. 

Rev. Sonja Tobey

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