I cannot introduce the season of Christmas without introducing the way in which most of us participate, one way or another, in the nullification of that worship. Our time should not be spent on getting the culture to put the Christ back into Christmas but on getting the Church to put the Christ back into Christians. By participating so thoughtlessly in the consumer culture of the Christmas holiday, we void any witness we may have hoped to offer.
It is difficult to imagine by-passing the ridiculous nature of many modern day Christmas celebrations; the culture is a powerful thing and who are we to fight it? But this is a lie. In the birth of the small and vulnerable Jesus, we already celebrate by extension the crucified and resurrected Jesus, and this means something concrete regarding materialism and the luminosity of the Gospel. As his imitators, we are called to simplicity just as Jesus was. We are called to identification with those whose financial status disqualifies them from participating in the mad rush of holiday shopping, just as Jesus is. We are called, not to family-centrism, but to open our doors to those who may be crushed by loneliness, just as Jesus did.
So it is easy to see that we, as a Christian community, cannot abide by the culture’s idolatrous version of this sacred celebration. It is not idolatrous because ‘they’ took the Christ out of Christmas; they have no reason to care if it’s in there or not, they are not Christians. But we are, and so, for us, it is to our own celebration that we need to attend.
What I mean is that until we find ourselves looking like Jesus at Christmas: poor, humble, and extremely open, then we have nothing to say to the culture. But have good cheer! I am convinced that we have been given a wonderful party with incredible joy waiting for us in the humility of the pennyless babe!