From The Pastor At St. Paul's UCC, Freeburg, IL

Get Christ Out Of Christmas

Yep, that’s the theme for my Christmas Eve sermon tonight. Time to get Christ out of Christmas. I’m serious. I mean to look at a few ways our culture celebrates Christmas, then wonder if those traditions are Christ honoring – who are we trying to please with all the cards, fruitcake, decorating, and especially buying and selling? C’mon! I have deep suspicions as to whether we’re wanting our cake of Christ with a little frosting of tradition, or whether we really want our cake of tradition with a little frosting of Christ. Our culture is so big on “cashing in”, seems to me we’re cashing in on Christ. With the rise of conservativism, being “religious” becomes one more way to cash in both for politicians and marketers.

But while I’ve had my suspicions and unease for a while, here’s what tipped me over. A few weeks ago I was in the mall just looking around – that usually depresses me but I consider it sermon prep! In one of the central areas the Santa Claus hut was set up, with kids lined up, “elves” getting the photos taken, bought, paid for, etc. Christmas. Kids. Kinda nice. Behind the Santa area was the typical kid kiosk, with candies, toys, treats, etc. for kids to buy. Kids. Nice. 20 feet away from all that is the Victoria’s Secret store (what secret?), with big display windows full of nearly naked women in Victoria’s Christmas attire. Women. Breasts. Bare bottoms. Sex. Christmas?? I stood there, looking over the kiddie kiosk to the display window and a couple of thoughts occurred to me:

  • what are we doing to our children? We’re sexualizing them far before they’re ready. Why, one wonders, was the Santa hut placed so near Victoria’s? Was that really the only location available? Or did we just not give a damn?
  • the word “Christmas” was all over the place – was this keeping Christ in Christmas? Folks, including store clerks, wished me “Merry Christmas” rather than Happy Holidays – was that really keeping Christ in Christmas?
  • “keeping Christ in Christmas” this way is like putting lipstick on a pig – still a pig, still a self-centered, self-indulgent, self-saving consumer culture
  • When Victoria’s Secret wishes me a merry Christmas, it’s time to get Christ out of Christmas.

It’s not that I don’t love some of the traditions – especially Christmas tree lights in a darkened room, while lying on the floor looking up at them. Love it! Christmas carols – love ’em! They are not Christ, however; and I think we’re losing the distinction. I think that instead of making our culture more Christ-like, we’re making Christ more culture-like. We’re not so much seeing him as in our world; we’re seeing him as of our world. Christ then is cool with our spending ourselves into debt while the world starves – and call that honoring Christ!

I could go on, but I’m starting to sputter. My closing point – we need to get Christ out of Christmas so as to keep them distinct and not mistake one for the other. If we keep Christ, Christmas will take care of itself. Seems that was the case at the first Christmas – unless there was a Bethlehem Victoria’s Secret that Luke forget to mention!

Merry Christmas, and bah humbug!


One response

  1. Jennifer Crecelius

    Just read this to Sam while driving to do more shopping. Merry Xmas scrooge! We love you!!

    December 24, 2010 at 10:07 am

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