It seems to get worse each year: the Christmas commercials, music, and mall decorations are starting earlier and earlier. This year, when Halloween ended, we seemed to have skipped right over Thanksgiving and gone straight to Christmas. And, I find this trend repulsive. What is driving it? Love for Christ, a want to get on with celebrating the coming of the Messiah, or a general desire for holiday cheer? No. None of that. Rather, it is all about “the third thing called Christmas,” which C. S. Lewis most bemoaned in his own day. It seems this phenomenon is nothing new. Sure, I don’t have local TV (stream content using Roku), I don’t listen to radio very much, and I avoid the mall like the plague. But, this is only avoidance…the phenomenon continues, and I can escape it only so much.
Although C. S. Lewis was no scrooge, and neither am I, he was right on this point: Christmas for the mere sake of trying to help the economy is a nightmarish affair, and I would even go so far as to say it is blasphemous. Please don’t get me wrong, enjoy your Christmas traditions, make up new and unique ones for your children and families, make the season come alive in unique and fresh ways, but I beg of you, do so for the right reasons. And, above all, reject the idol of commercialism that has us bowing at the altar of economic growth when we should be kneeling in humble reverence and awe at the manger, for as Bonhoeffer reminds us, “No powerful person dares to approach the manger, and this even includes King Herod. For this is where thrones shake, the mighty fall, the prominent perish, because God is with the lowly.” (from God is in the Manger)
May we not forget what Christmas is really about, may we celebrate the humble coming of the King who in lowliness took down the mightiest, who in servitude led with love, who in suffering brought us joy, and who in temporal death guaranteed eternal life for all who believe. Amen, and merry Christmas, or as Jack would have said, gregariously raising a pint and vigorously puffing his pipe, “Happy Christmas!”
C. S. Lewis, “What Christmas Means to Me.” God in the Dock. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970. 304-05.