Despite nostalgic protestations, do we really want to “Keep Christ in Christmas”? Do we realize how subversive that would be to so many of the social customs and family traditions in which we revel at this time of year? At some deep, desperate level I want to believe we do!
Have we so domesticated the story of Jesus’ birth that we fail to recognize how Christmas really turns our world on its head? Virgin birth? God becoming human? No room in the inn? Birth in a manger. The people in darkness see a great light?
Instead of Christ’s birth truly liberating us, saving us, transforming us; we seem to have turned the original story inside-out and up-side-down. Instead of being the story of our salvation, many if not most of our social customs and religious practices exonerate false gods and verge on a practical atheism.
I have absolutely no valid evidence to make the following claim, but I have a hunch. My gut tells me that the very people who feverishly “worship” at the Twin Cities’ temple of American consumerism — our world famous Mall of America attracts more visitors each year than Disneyland! — are the very people who most vehemently protest to “Keep Christ in Christmas!” Yes, such is the state of our cultural agnosticism, our alienation from the true revelation of the Christmas story.
This is not meant to throw cold water on our family gatherings and holiday revelry. In no way do I want to be Scrooge or an old-curmudgeon! But let us at least acknowledge that we too are a people who walk in darkness. We too reside in a world in desperate need of a savior. Such is the basis for an even more celebratory Christmas, our recognition of the sheer gratuity of this grace-filled season.
Each faltering impulse, every nostalgic appeal, to “Keep Christ in Christmas” is truly an expression of a deeper personal and collective need — our persistent yearning for a savior, one other than ourselves to keep us from drowning in frenetic consumption and feverish idolatry, to bring us back to the truth of who we are as human beings.
Onto such as these — us — a child is given, a son is born, who is Christ the Lord.