Enough with the scolding and shaming

JoelleHanson
11/10/2011

Enough with the scolding and shaming

It's not even Advent yet and the anti-commercialism scolding has begun. Now it's "Occupy Advent" on Facebook, whose advocates are urging us not to post anything about buying things for Christmas. This seems like the most bizarre movement ever. Go ahead and buy stuff, just keep it secret. Because, you know, shaming people into good behavior always works so well.

It's not that consumerism is not an issue all times of the year. It's the scolding and the shaming I am really tired of. I've written of this before. I like buying presents. I like Christmas trees and lights and even Santa Claus. Do I think any of that has anything to do with Jesus?

Well yes, I do. Christmas is about the incarnation, God entering into our human lives. We don't have to put Christ back into Christmas, he's there whether you want him there or not. He is in the shopping malls. He is in the face of the harried mall clerk who could perhaps benefit more from a kind word from a shopper than someone boycotting the mall.

The Advent Conspiracy has been around for at least 20 years. Preachers have been haranguing about consumerism on Christmas as long as I can remember. Let's ask ourselves a question. How’s that working for us? Apparently not so well.

It's not about things

If the meaning of the coming of Christ into our lives has nothing to do with things, then let's stop focusing on things. Buy gifts, make gifts, don't buy gifts. Post it on Facebook, don't post it on Facebook. Whatever. That's not what it is about.

Is it about the poor? Well, yes, but I'm pretty sure people are more charitable at Christmas than any other time of the year, so really I don't think we need more scolding about that either.

What is it about? It's about God with us. All year round. In all parts of our lives. It's about God claiming all of us. Even the part of us that thinks we can make everything better by buying a bunch of toys for our children's first Christmas without their dad.

Deep down we know better, but we are so desperate to see a little joy in them for a few minutes we'll take what we can get. (OK, you know I don't mean "we," right?)

God claims the part of us that is all self-righteous because we didn't get our hands dirty at an evil mall and we've hand made all our gifts.

God claims everyone, the people whose livelihoods depend on the money that comes in from Christmas shopping and the people who line up at the food pantry and rejoice that they got the last box of Cheez-It and are going to wrap it up and give it to their child as a Christmas gift, because they too, want to see a little joy in their child's face.

Christmas is a gift. Let's just accept the gift and stop trying to earn it by either buying or not buying gifts. Maybe that's the best way to prepare for Christmas.

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Originally posted October 28, 2011, at Skating in the Garden in High Heels Under My Alb. Republished with permission of the author. Find a link to Joelle Colville-Hanson’s entry on the blog Skating in the Garden in High Heels Under My Alb at Lutheran Blogs.

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