OK I confess, I don’t celebrate the commercial side of Christmas. Although I produce handmade Christmas cards for all my friends and family every year, as a way to remind them that I am thinking and praying for them, and that I love them, I don’t put up a tree, decorate my house, shop for gifts, or otherwise participate in what has become a idolatrous worship of commerce during the Christmas season.
Especially at Christmas, Americans and other Western cultures throw themselves into a frenzy over the acquisition of “stuff.” Shopping, gift giving, and gift getting has permanently replaced worship in many peoples’ lives as *the* primary activity of the celebration of Jesus’ birth. Americans of every stripe–except the Amish and a few other religious minorities–pursue Christmas list making and shopping with a fervency they rarely express in Sunday Worship.
Those same folks who usually read their bulletins, check their cell phone messages, or pick their nails during Sunday worship, or worse, arrogantly walk out of a service when the worship leader does not “meet their needs,” will stand in shopping lines for hours on “Black Friday” without whining, and walk for days in search of the perfect gift to the endless strains of Christmas songs, carols, and hymns. Never mind the real message of the Incarnation–the Presence of God among us–we’re seriously bent on acquiring “presents” not Presence as the ultimate expression of the season.
So I was seriously excited when I read Pastor Craig Miller’s More & Me essay in this month’s CLA Newsletter. He’s won a place in my heart with his “sold out to Jesus” lifestyle and preaching. This essay raises him to Hero status in my book! I’ve loaded the essay in WORD form, because it’s tough to access as a single page in the Newsletter. But both versions are here, to give credits where credits are due.
And if you forget the LORD your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. (Deuteronomy 8:19)
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:28-29)