‘Complaints of Christmas’

Terry Walton



I Was Thinking…

Should it be offensive that Christmas decorations are now on store shelves immediately following Labor Day?  Is it wrong for Christmas music to begin on XM radio November 1?  Is it a travesty for Christmas Carols to be sung in our churches during Advent?  I have heard all of these complaints shared in conversations across the years.  Is any of it sinful?

My heart tells me that all of this depends on one’s point of view.  I think what is being communicated with such complaints is that the special memories of the season could be lost if Christmas is watered down and spread beyond its seasonal boundaries.  There seems to be a concern that the meaning of Christmas could be lost if that meaning is not contained in its proper context.

I’ve known some who have celebrated and emphasized the theme of ‘Christmas in July’.  This theme has been around since the early 20th century and has various origins.  One origin came through a Baptist Church in Philadelphia where congregants were encouraged to bring gifts for missionaries in July so that they could be mailed and received by Christmas.  In 1944 and 1945 a similar emphasis from the U.S. Postal Service, U.S. Army, Navy and the American advertising and greeting card industries to promote early mailing for service men and women overseas in World War II.

Of course none of this is wrong nor is it a travesty.  It certainly isn’t sinful unless we forget!  If we forget the ‘reason for the season’ we might as well not have the season, whether it is one day or several months.  Just as it is true in our churches…we must never forget the ‘why’.  Why was your church begun and why is it still present in your community?  Why do we have the season of Christmas?  What does this season have to say to our broken and hurting world?

It seems to me that once we ‘sit with the why’ for a moment, then our ideas of timing seem to wither away.  We discover that “Joy to the World!  The Lord is come” is appropriate for any time in any place.

Whatever our preferences and timing of celebration, it is important to celebrate that God has loved the world so much that God sent an only child to save us from sin. 

So let’s have room for a variety of ways to remember the ‘why’ of Christmas.  Enjoy the anticipation and waiting of Advent.  Give thanks that our secular world still acknowledges that Christmas Carols are worthy of two months of air time.  And isn’t it wonderful that Halloween and Christmas sit side by side on Walmart shelves? 

“Go Tell it on the Mountain that Jesus Christ is Born!”  God IS with us…Emmanuel!

Always Thinking…

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