(rerun) Let's get this out of the way first. I have wonderful Christmas memories from my childhood. I remember the fun family times looking at the lights, and decorating the tree, going to Christmas eve candlelight services.. and I still believe families should do those things. And I believe that Jesus' birth is sacred and truly miraculous.
That being said..
I am starting to become a cynic about all things that are supposedly good in America. Christmas takes the cake. It simply is THE most manufactured, hyped, human centered celebration topped only by our own birthdays.
It seems to me that in America we have a problem, especially in our churches. We can't quite grasp the fact that we don't have to bury each other in earthly toys to celebrate a day in which ironically the King of Kings came into this world in the most humble, non-materialistic way imaginable. In fact I firmly believe that Jesus hates our version of Christmas. He would hate the fact that people use his entrance into this world to get their businesses "into the black". He would hate the fact that the only thing the media can report on is how retail sales are up or down from last year. He would hate the fact that we start celebrating this holiday two months before it even takes place.. and yet when the day comes to celebrate the fact that Jesus died on a cross to pay the ultimate sacrifice that saved us from hell, we spend the night before picking out pretty clothes, we spend Sunday at an hour-and-a-half long service, then we go home and hide eggs and take a nap. Barely a whimper is made, there aren't songs that we sing for months ahead of that time to remember the true saving grace that occurred. It's a tiny blip on our radar, while Christmas takes up a fifth of our entire year with a climax at the end of giving material things to each other that we don't need in the first place.
I'm not a scrooge. I don't hate people spreading cheer. But that's not really what I see, especially working retail. I see people going into debt to buy toys for each other. I see people in chaotic traffic jams honking at each other. I see people literally fighting over parking spaces. It's a contest to see who can outspend. Really the whole thing has become a caricature of itself. And Jesus would hardly endorse it.
Again.. when you have families it is important to spend some time as a family talking about Jesus, making memories that are peaceful and pleasant. The songs can be nice.. (although this year I was ready to stick two ice picks into my ears). And in general if we took away the chaos and the massive amount of gifts, it could be a very worshipful time.
Christians are asleep. Jesus IS coming back soon, and I'm just not convinced that the American church is as Christ-centered as we like to think we are. Myself included. I am guilty of being a Sunday Christian just like we all do from time to time. Meanwhile there is an un-believing world out there that looks at our actions this time of year and it looks like it's the new Apple product that is giving us our joy and not Jesus, who actually happens to be our First, Last, and Only hope.