Tuesday, November 27, 2007


KULTURE KRISMAS IS UPON US. The Christian season of Advent follows hard on the heels of our American Thanksgiving Day. But even before Advent is the onset of "kulture krismas." Thanksgiving Day ushers it in. Macy's parade is the processional. Black Friday lures the faithful expectantly into the holiday marketplace. And we're off!

SPIRITUAL QUANDARY. In this juxtaposition of seasons and spiritual realities, I feel the quandary of being both a Christian minister and an American consumer. As a pastor, I already felt outdone by the big-box stores, which jumped to Christmas sales and songs right after Halloween. Economists will consider it a good Christmas if we will all just spend enough...and a little bit more. And we're not yet to the first Sunday of Advent!

PURPOSE AND PIZZAZZ. I guess I'm a bit jealous and resentful at the same time about this annual scenario. There's no way a local congregation can match the marketplace's glitter in this season. They pitch the purpose but pour on the the pizzazz. I realized this as I reviewed the Advent and Christmas decorations in our church storage room earlier today in anticipation of our "Hanging the Christmas Greens" service tomorrow night. We've got some props and we'll make the place charming, but we can't compete with the mall or Monument Circle downtown. Ours is, for now, the lesser light.

YOU CAN'T BUY MEANING. But Christian faith isn't in competition with the marketplace. The church isn't even in the same league. Theirs is borrowed glory. They'll turn heads and empty wallets and do whatever they do. But when it's all said and done, they'll be looking over the shoulder of the church once again. You can't muster up or bluster up Christmas. You can't buy meaning. You can't market your way into salvation or peace on earth, goodwill toward all.

LIGHTS OUT, LIGHT SHINES. Come Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, all will yield. All will fall silent. It will either be not all it was cracked up to be, or something none of the brightest displays and most expensive gifts can touch. When the stores close their doors and turn off their lights on Christmas Eve, we'll be opening ours and letting the Light shine. Some folks will have the wits to bow, worship and adore the Christ in the manger. On that night, let all the church sing! O, let us shout! From that moment, let our sorted sound eclipse all others. And let us welcome, as well, all those who mistakenly thought it could be bought. For the likes of them and us, God in Christ has come!

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