Dear Friends of Kenilworth Union Church,
Every December, Christian preachers are expected to generate shrill screeds against the creeping—or maybe one should say galloping—commercialization of Christmas.
We’re supposed to point out that somehow the birth of this baby born in a cattle shed has become a $600 billion industry in America, which is bigger than the GDP of Sweden.
We’re supposed to bemoan the ever-lengthening shopping season, which now seems to begin just after Labor Day.
We’re supposed to point out that most of the beloved symbols of an American Christmas are of pagan origin and have nothing to do with Bethlehem.
If you’re a Christian preacher and neglect to lament the commercializing of Christmas, they take your ordination papers away.
I get it. It’s easy to lose sight of the wee child in a manger among all the gaudy trappings, but instead of the Commercializing of Christmas, I prefer to think about the Christmasing of Commerce.
True, a lot of us at Christmas spend money we don’t have on gifts we don’t need, but it’s all in homage to the Magi who offered the baby expensive gifts he didn’t need either. What’s a baby going to do with myrrh?
True again, it’s hard to see the spiritual meaning of Santa Claus, but I just remind myself that he’s the nineteenth-century Coca-Cola rendition of the fourth-century Asia Minor Saint Nicholas, who dropped bags of gold down the chimneys of the poor under cover of night.
True yet again, the lights on the Christmas tree, and the Christmas tree itself, come down to us from the pagan bacchanal called Saturnalia, but I choose to ignore this and to remind myself instead of the Light of the World which shines in the darkness, and of the never-failing love of God which blooms a vernal green the whole year round.
So don’t tell anybody, but I don’t fret much about the Commercializing of Christmas; I just celebrate the Christmasing of Commerce.
Still, we’ll be here for five services on the Eve of Our Lord’s Nativity to get to the real point of Christmas by telling the ancient tale and singing the beloved songs. If you want a guaranteed seat in the sanctuary and a parking spot this side of Ridge Road, come to the 9 or 11 p.m. services.
The peace of the Christ Child to you and those you love this Christmastide.
William A. Evertsberg