Before we blame corporate America or government officials, we must look inside our own family celebration. Walk through your beautifully decorated home and examine each scene.
- Are there stockings hanging on the fireplace or shelf?
- Santas of every shape and size?
- Cookies by the fireplace?
- Hidden presents waiting to magically appear on Christmas morning?
- Can you look out the window and see plastic or inflated reindeer pulling a sleigh across your yard?
In most Christian homes you will find all the above mixed among Advent calendars and nativity crèches. Most Christmas trees are adorned with a plethora of ornaments including Santas, reindeer, stockings, Frosty the Snowman, Grinches, Rudolph, angels, Magi, Bethlehem stables, holy family and of course Mickey Mouse in a Santa hat. It’s the American way to mix the movies of Hollywood with the Words of God.
My mother’s joy at Christmas was so contagious. She decorated every room of the house. She baked mountains of delicious desserts. Presents were piled high under each tree. She squealed as each one was opened. Her delight came from watching others’ delight.
I grew to love Christmas. I followed her traditions and added a few new ones. Isn’t that how it works? Traditions are engrained from childhood. They become so comfortable, we can’t imagine another viewpoint exists.
As I was unpacking my ceramic Santa collection (thanks to Grandmas of the 80s) I turned to the kid from next door and said, “Do you want a Santa?”
“What do I need with a Santa?”
Wow, I never considered anyone not wanting or needing a Santa at Christmas. His family was Jewish. He didn’t need or want a Santa. At first I pitied him for not knowing his Messiah. Then I rebuked myself for offering him a Santa inside of a Savior.
Later with my head hung in shame, I lamented. Why had I allowed a man’s poem (Twas the Night Before Christmas) and a Coke Cola campaign (jolly Santa in a red suit) to pollute the Reason for the Season? I trumpeted that campaign for Christ to be returned to Christmas but the guilt rested on my head.
In two generations the work of a poet and an artist changed the face of how we worship. I had no witness to my neighbors. I had more reindeer than angels, more elves than shepherds, and more Santa’s than The Babe in a manger.
Imagine: A Father sells everything he owns to buy his daughter a beautiful hand woven white gown. She looks like a princess. She feels like a princess. The sacrifice was nothing compared to her joy. Her delight as she told her friends of her father’s love. She wore the dress, she testified of his sacrifice. The story of his love spread.
When the daughter was just a preschooler she loved Snow White. Before long, she had added fake fur to the collar of her beloved gown. Soon the mermaid Ariel fascinated her and inspired the idea to add plastic sequins so she shimmered as she danced.
In her teens, the obsession with Britney brought more changes to the gown. It was cut off to show off her long legs in high heels. Years later the gown of pure beauty was dyed black and adorned with gothic studs.
She could no longer tell the story of her father’s sacrifice for she no longer recognized the gown.
God gave us His greatest sacrifice. We polluted His Story with the gaudiness of our culture. His heart breaks. We should weep.
That Christmas years ago, I gave away all the ceramic Santas, took down the stockings from the fireplace, and threw away everything that did not give glory to my beloved Father in Heaven.
My God is a jealous God. He shares His glory with no one…not even Santa.
God’s people determine the direction of the nation. If MY PEOPLE who are called by MY NAME will humble themselves and pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, THEN I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and WILL HEAL THEIR LAND.