The Holiday Spirit:Consumerism and Christianity

Something quite doesn’t seem right this year at Christmas. I mean, it’s supposed to be the happiest time of the year, right. Well, everything doesn’t seem right, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, until I found myself sitting in traffic all day, as I drove around shopping for Christmas gifts. You would think that if I was in the car for hours at a time that I must have been driving all over California to purchase that perfect gift, when in reality, I must have driven only up and down Wilshire.

And as I was sitting in the car, I realized that I have totally lost what Christmas is all about. it’s not about shopping, it’s not about purchasing gifts, nor receiving them. Rather, it’s about being with family and friends, and worshipping the event of God becoming man. And it’s unfortunate that I need somone to remind me of this. This is a season where we set aside time to mark the event of dvinity dwelling in the flesh. How remarkable is that. (John 1: Phil. 2). Yet it seems like we would rather worship the all mighty dollar, and the conusmeristic attitude of the season.

My favorite song of the Christmas season is “The Little Drummer Boy.” Every time I hear the song I am literally, and quite easily moved to tears. I thought I might be alone in this, until I mentioned this to a friend, who immediately responded in like, and we both found ourselves in tears as we discussed the deep meaning of the song. Yes, forget what you think as a simple song, simply because most of the lyrics are Ra pum pum pum. Rather, it is a song, about a young boy, who has nothing to offer this baby child, but the gift of playing the drum. This little boy, offerring up to Jesus, all that he could muster.

That is what the Christmas season is about. It’s not about what we can give each other materially, but it’s about relationship, it’s about the giving of ourselves, and the gifts God has given us. It’s about offerring up to God all that we have to give him, which isn’t much, not about driving around in traffic, looking for that perfect gift.

It seems like this is something we should know as Christians, but sadly it is not that easy for us. Of anyone, we are the ones who are to point to the world around us of something greater, something transcendent, something more worth living for than the materials that we purchase and consume.

Though I still like to give gifts to those around me, and though I still have been running around crazily, trying to find that perfect gift for that special person, i think it’s important that as Christians we really, and truly embrace what the Christmas season is about.

We have the chance to be a light to those around us (Matt. 5:13-16), but sometimes I wonder if we lost that light, or cover it up, when we spend most of our Christmas season running around purchasing gifts, all stressed out. God coming down as a baby child, to bear the weight of the world on his shoulders (Isaiah 9:6) seems to be the last thing on our minds. It is this event, God taking on flesh that has given us life, by becoming a child, living a perfect life, dying on the cross, and paying for our sins, so that we wouldn’t have to.

This season we are doing something different in my house. It is probably for several reasons: 1) I have all that I want, and more thant I could possibly need; 2) There are no children in the house; 3) I’m spending my first Christmas away from my family. All those have contributed to us deciding that we would draw names, and purchase one gift for that person, under $20. And then whatever else we would spend, or would want to spend, we are contributing to some organization or foundation that we want to support. But this is this year, and that is not always how we have done it.

But I think it would be a great thing, no matter what you are doing this Christmas, to remember the real reason for the season as they say. Most of your Christmas shopping is probably over, so it’s a little too late to slow down. But if you haven’t, SLOW DOWN…SPEND TIME WITH THOSE AROUND YOU THAT CARE ABOUT YOU…REFLECT ON YOUR FAVORITE CHRISTMAS MEMORIES…AND REFLECT ON WHAT IT IS THAT GOD DID OVER 2000 YEARS BY COMING DOWN TO EARTH AS A CHILD.

For other thoughts on Consumerism and Christianity, check out these resources:

Rich Christians In An Age of Hunger
Suburban Spirituality

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