Many of us are asking how we can "un-co-opt Christmas" from consumer culture. Asking questions like:
How has media managed our vision of the manger?
How sanitized is our telling of the birth of the Savior?
In short, is our Christmas revolutionary like the first?
That amazing Australian media ministry JustSalvos (who had Jim Wallis on their show earlier this year) asked me into the studio to discuss the Bible's telling of the first Christmas stories and how larger culture has co-opted the story to serve 'consumer-mas.' They asked about the many elements that are edited out of most nativity scenes: war, immigrants, outsiders, outcasts, and empire. We also discussed consumerism, John Dear, Christian Peacemaker Teams, why Guatemala in the '80s banned reading parts of the Christmas story, and the importance of joyful alternatives that open our hearts to God and our neighbor.
I think it is very exciting that this isn't just rumblings on the radical fridges but there are amazing fruits of this movement of the spirit in the mainstream. More and more churches are becoming agents of the Advent Conspiracy around the world. BuyNothingChristmas.org continues to provoke conversation around "the reason for the season." And closer to home; I have a mate who is a senior pastor in a large Pentecostal church in my city who had people leave his church when they announced a change to their Christmas outreach. What was so offensive that would cause people to leave that church?
This year they won't be pouring a huge part of their budget into a major carols event which drew prominent local business people, politicians, and families that have their lives together. Instead that budget is going towards "the families in the area where Christmas is a time of stress: to the people who are shut-in who can never get to our events, to the kids who miss out on presents, to the people who never get invited to a Christmas dinner. God is sending us to them this Christmas."
Wow. How beautiful. How moving. How powerfully this speaks of the Christmas story in a way that maxed-out credit cards and ridiculous light-display-fuelled-power-bills never can.
Lord, this Christmas, may you send us to those to whom you chose to send your Son. May we be incarnate not in the halls of power, places of prestige, or people of prominence but on the outskirts of empire with the lost, the last, and the least you love so, so much. May we be filled again with the joy, the wonder, and the amazement at your good news. Holy Spirit, we ask that the glorious advent of peace on earth be birthed anew in us as we joyfully proclaim Christ -- with love in our hearts, carols on our lips, and a fist in the air.
Jarrod McKenna is seeking to live God's love in a world where business as usual is costing us the earth (at the expense of the poor). He is the National Advisor for Youth, Faith and Activism for World Vision Australia, a co-founder of the Peace Tree Community serving with the marginalised in one of the poorest of areas in his city, and is the founder and creative director of Empowering Peacemakers (EPYC), for which he has received an Australian peace award in his work in empowering a generation of "eco-evangelists" and "peace prophets."