December 26, 2012
Christmas and commerce: It's not all bad (Barrett Duke, Nov 29, 2012, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission)
Posted by Orrin Judd at December 26, 2012 9:33 AMLet me give you some things to think about. For one thing, it's true that stores, restaurants, and a multitude of businesses enrich themselves at Christmas. But those stores employ people. They sell products by manufacturers that employ people. We need that employment to continue. The lives and wellbeing of millions of families depend on it.And there is more up-side to the commercialization of Christmas than that. During Christmas, the gospel message is plastered across America. The very word "Christmas" reminds people of Jesus Christ. Clearly, they aren't getting the whole story, but it's better than nothing. It gives us a good starting place to talk about all that Christmas means.And it's not only the "Merry Christmas" signs and advertisements that help us with our work of evangelism. There is also all that Christmas music. Some of it, to be sure, is pretty unengaging, like Frosty the Snowman. But I'll take Frosty the Snowman when the playlist includes a song like Silent Night, with its captivating reminder of the miracle of the virgin birth.Then, there's the whole Christmas spirit the stores help us promote. I understand that many of these store owners just want to get us in the spending mood. But there is a benefit in that mood-altering activity. Most people are just in a better mood at Christmas. They smile more, they think more about the people in their lives. They are moved to generosity and compassion toward the less fortunate. At least for a while, there is a little more peace on earth in some people's lives and across the nation.We also cannot overlook the impact of nostalgia. Christmas reminds us of simpler times, before all the hardships of life, the bad decisions, the disappointments. It reminds us of a faith that once stirred in our hearts. Such reflection is a seedbed for evangelism. Christmas offers us a perfect opportunity to remind people that it is possible to get a new start. And for those without memories of better days, it gives us opportunity to tell them the Jesus of Christmas can give them a better present and future, that through Jesus, they can escape the chains of their past.