A radical idea...

Every year the exhausted gather up the remains of Christmas like morning after drunks and vow never to do it again. And like the addicts they are they will, same time, same place, next year.

But here's an idea, perhaps a radical one. What would happen if devout Christians simply opted out of our culture's notion of Christmas and practiced the Church's?

"Impossible" you say and I would respond "Why?" "Well, there's too much hype, to much commercialism, too much of that syrupy music." And I would say "Are you that weak that some advertiser somewhere can so easily pull your strings?"

Now in some parts of the Muslim world people would riot and kill off a few dozen people to respond to a challenge to their sacred days. That's off the option list for Christians even through we do have some folks trying to ride the "the culture is attacking Christmas" bandwagon to notoriety and financial success and ironically aping the commercial culture's desecration of this day by still making the season all about their needs. The truth is that if we feel strongly about this sacred season being hijacked by a morbid commercial culture we simply need to start actually approaching it as Christians and not Americans.

Start slowly by cutting down on the gifts and ramping up on giving to the poor. Decorations don't have to go up right after Thanksgiving and if you can't find your way to fasting at least say no to a cookie once in a while. It's about a change of focus towards the One whose arrival we celebrate and away from ourselves. towards the truly hungry and away from our own shallow cravings, towards the celebration of Christ and away from self indulgence.

You see the reason the holiday has been polluted is that for too long Christians have been willing dupes in its desecration. Oh we may gripe a bit when Christmas displays are up in October, or earlier, but we're there shopping with the rest of folks and buying in to it all. What difference does it make to complain about the holiday being removed from the schools or government offices when the true spirit of the holiday has long ago been removed from us? What right do we have to expect the pagans to be more faithful then we are?

The actual truth may be that we really do enjoy the chaotic consumer mess that Christmas has become in this country. We have come to accomodate ourselves, as we have in so many things, to the dictates of a broken world and that brokenness has become normal, even desireable to us in the same way that addicts enjoy their terrible pleasures. But if there is a part inside of us that still thinks something is wrong about it all, that there must be a better way, we should quiet ourselves and listen. Perhaps we may discover in that silence a still small voice challenging us to something better, something more holy, some more real about the season soon upon us.

That may make all the difference.

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