December 22, 2005

Christmastime Materialism

It seems that I’ve heard a lot said this year about the horrid materialism of Christmas. “Christmas is about Christ, not about presents.” “Christmas should be a time to reflect and meditate.” “How can we worship the Christ-child when there is so much noise?” And on and on and on. I don’t suppose that it is really more this year than most years, but I’ve had a new realization this year.

I think Christmastime is not the time to meditate nor to be somber nor for quiet contemplation. It is a time to celebrate! The Christ-child is born, and God has revealed to us His salvation. What better cause to pull out all the stops and celebrate with all of our gusto?

The Old Testament Israelites did this in Nehemiah’s day, as Jerusalem was being rebuilt. (See Nehemiah 8:13-18.) King David knew how to party with all His might before the Lord. (See 2 Samuel 6:16-23.) And Christ Himself says that there is a time for celebration for the Advent of the Bridegroom. (See Matthew 9:14-17. Admittedly, the verse seems to say that the time for celebrating was during Christ’s time on earth. But, I think it isn’t an illogical extension to say that we ought to truly celebrate Christmas once a year.)

Now, I do have to give a disclaimer. I also think that our culture at large (at least, for those of us in Western cultures like the United States, as I am) tends to not spend enough time in contemplation and meditation and quiet. We are constantly surrounded by noise and materialism. (For, it seems, the two often go hand in hand.) Many college students that I’ve known could hardly stand being away from their stereos (or iPods) for more than a fifteen minutes. We need to take more time to think, to examine ourselves, to see if we are following Christ with all we are. (See 2 Corinthians 13:5.) But, I dare say, Christmas is not the time to do it.

I also know that far too many associate Christmas with simply the receiving of presents—and it is true that a celebration is somewhat foolish if folks don’t know what they are celebrating. Even then, however, “(it is a proof of His lordship that practically the whole world sets aside a day to be happy and giving in His name.)[]”

My conclusion? Yes, let’s live more thoughtful lives, all year round. Examine your lives every day—and even perhaps especially on New Year’s. But Christmas is a time to celebrate.

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