During the holidays, American consumerism reaches fever pitch as everyone rushes out to buy festively-wrapped goods. Do you think the wise men are to blame for “Black Friday?” People clamor over the latest toys and electronics for their kids, even succumbing to fisticuffs in the heat of the holiday rush. Can you imagine Mary and Joseph duking it out with patrons at the Bethlehem Inn for a place to stay??
The conquest of Christmas by consumerism is certainly not a new wave fad. Its an age old fashion in the United States. And sadly it is the by-product of the commercialization of Christianity, not just Christmas.
Just look at the state of the American church what with grand cathedrals called mega churches, home to bookstores, coffee shops, escalators and ATMs. Sorta sounds like a shopping mall, doesn’t it? There are books, DVDs, compact discs, artwork, Bibles, study guides and more available for a hefty profit…all to benefit “the ministry.” Take a second look at the lavish lifestyles of the new American pastor/CEO. I won’t delve into the scandalous Congressional inquiry of these ministers, as I think Columnist John Whitehead summed it up quite well in his recent commentary.
How did we let Christianity in America become so commercialized? There’s not a marketing solution to the problem of sin in the world. There’s just you and me, The Church.
So next time you want to rant about the commercialization of Christmas, take a look in your own church first. Has it become so “seeker sensitive” and introverted that it’s lost its missional focus? Do the people come first or the programs? And what are you doing to change it?
I don’t intend this blog entry to be a total rant, so I’ve included links below to some solutions to help combat the consumeristic approach to the holiday:
The Buy Nothing Movement
Also, I found this guy’s blog an interesting take coming from a Jewish perspective.
The "me-first pandemic" has infected the church, so it is no wonder that Santa and the almighty dollar have replaced the Christ child and the true spirit of giving (i.e. putting others first). Heck, it's hard enough to find Christ or his greatest commandment at the center of what's become American Christianity over the last two centuries. Not to bah-humbug your holidays or rain on your Christmas parade, but think about this next time you're standing in a long line at 5 a.m. outside Wal-Mart or waiting with debit card in hand for your pre-liturgy latte'.