The lovely old carols played and replayed till their effect is like a dentist’s drill or a jackhammer, the bathetic banalities of the pulpit and the chilling commercialism of almost everything else, people spending money they can’t afford on presents you neither need or want, “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” the plastic tree, the cornball creche, the Hallmark Virgin.  Yet for all our efforts, we’ve never quite managed to ruin it.  That in itself is part of the miracle, a part you can see.  Most of the miracle you can’t see, or don’t.  –-Frederick Buechner, Beyond Words 
 
   
The stockings of red and white with sparkled names are hung one by one.  The decorated tree  is surrounded as a guarded city—boxes and boxes lined up like soldiers decorated and spattered with shiny ribbons and bows.  The bright lights are set to dim, creating the ideal tone with thoughts of Yuletide.  The empty hallways are booming up and down with melodies humming shouts of glee.  And the dining room table is strewn in all it’s glory with food and drink as far as the eye can see, appearing as if it were adorned by Martha Stewart herself. 
 
If we are not careful to remember the kind of world Jesus visited some two-thousand years ago, we will be duped.  Just as hurriedly as we pack up and box up the bulbs and ceremic nativity scene in bubble-wrap (and take the tree to the closest recycle site)—we can just as quickly miss the messages of grace and wonder.  Back to life as usual happens without our even knowing it (that is if we ever remove ourselves from it to begin with).  With all of the excess of the Season and the slick-deliberate commercialization of the sacred, we skate right by Christmas, not even stopping to consider anything—let alone everything—that it so pointedly represents. 
 
1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.   (Luke 2:1-7, ESV)
 
Its become just another Hallmark Holiday as a friend of mine is fond of saying—referring to the likes of Sweetest Day and Presidents Day.  No disrespect to George Washington or your sweetie pie, but the celebration of our Saviors’ arrival isn’t some faddish or special day designed just to sell some more greeting cards, get the day off work—or even make us feel a little better about this dog-eat-dog world. 
 
On our cultures mainstreet in many ways, Christmas has become nothing more than a holiday on steroids.  It remains tops among driving consumers (as if it were our primary function in life to get and get until we can get no more) out to the malls by the droves to trade-in their paychecks for trinkets and trash, even if it means signing off on the next who knows how many checks.  It has become our civic duty to see to it that our economy continues to have a pulse if we consider ourselves true-blue Americans you know. 
          
Let us remember this Christmas, that Christmas is about more than just another occasion to get deeper into debt—and it isn’t another Hallmark Holiday.
Advertisements