The Common Good

Being Christ in a Consumer Christmas

Beneath the usual clamor of the holiday season is the faint din of anger.

Christmas light display at the Yodobashi-Akiba store, Japan. http://bit.ly/usVkK
Christmas light display at the Yodobashi-Akiba Department store in Akihabara City, Japan. Image via http://bit.ly/usVkKm

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Once again many have raised their voices regarding the “secularization” of Christmas. Armed with slogans such as “Keep Christ in Christmas,” they ensure we don't forget that this is a holiday about Jesus of Nazareth.

Common greetings such as, “Happy Holidays” are met with a defensive, counter-greetings of “… and Merry Christ-mas to you too.” 

Try using the abbreviation “Xmas.” Some folks believe this is literally “X-ing” Jesus out of the Christmas!

What seems to be glaringly absent from these vocal Christmas Crusaders is any protest against the gross consumerism, greed and selfishness that arrives every year with holiday season.

Retailers push gift buying for two months every year to cushion their bottom lines. 

Herds of people stampede one another in the name of saving a buck on Black Friday. 

Churches sell tickets to their Christmas Pageants to subsidize the massive production budget. 

People shop, party, and travel to the extent that they barely notice the holiday — the one they're so concerned about keeping Christ in — has come and gone.

This has become the common American way of celebrating the holidays, yet some are upset about those who choose to say “Happy Holidays?”

For many who don't celebrate Christmas, such attitude is perceived as insensitive and a complete overreaction. 

Still, the defenders of the “reason for the season” may be on to something.

This is a season that has been remembered and celebrated by Christians for centuries. The Church has historically called this time of year Advent. It is a time when the people of God anticipate and celebrate the coming of Jesus, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant …” (Phil 2.6,7).

Jesus came to join humanity in our suffering and in his death and resurrection brought peace, hope, and love to a hurting and broken world. Christmas is God’s way of constantly reminding humanity, “In all of your joy and in all of your struggle … I am here with you.”

The Church is not only to celebrate and remember the gift of Jesus; we are to imitate him and have the same mindset he possesses.

I must admit, I am a fan of keeping Christ in Christmas, too. Except; I really don’t care if you call it a "season" or a "holiday" or something else entirely. 

What I care about is whether people see Christ in Christmas when they see his Church celebrating it.

Keeping Christ in Christmas has nothing to do with greetings. Rather, it is about the people of God being Christ in Christmas.

In imitation of the God we celebrate on this holiday, we must make ourselves nothing and take on the nature of servants.

In giving our time, presence, and resources to the hurting and broken we will remind the world that Christ is still here with us.

Michael Hidalgo, is the the lead pastor at Denver Community Church, a holistic, Christian, missional congregation. Michael lives with his wife and three children in downtown Denver, Colorado.

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