There's a group called the Advent Conspiracy. It was started by a few pastors in the Portland, OR area who were sick of Christmas - I mean all the commercialization of said holiday. You know, it is not politically correct to say Merry Christmas, according to Walmart, anyway ( I understand Focus on the Family has a list of Christmas friendly stores so you can shop at places where Merry Christmas is still heard). Bill O'Reilly of Fox News is a big fan of Christmas. He said that every company in America ought to get down on their knees and thank Jesus for coming to earth because they would be far less profitable if he had not!. Well, uh.... Someone is missing the point here. Would Christmas be better if the Walmart greeter said Merry Christmas to you?
One of the Advent Conspiracy founding pastors said Christmas is our story so why should we be upset if Walmart can't tell it? Or something like that. But that is exactly right. We have allowed the culture to pretty much co-opt Christmas. And we in the church, playing catch up, try to get our two cents in when we can. The Advent Conspiracy does not challenge us to opt out of Christmas altogether but it does challenge us to ramp it down a bit. Less money spent, fewer gifts, more attention to justice and world poverty issues - in a few words, keep our Christmas celebrations more in line with the Spirit of the season.
Few would argue that Christmas is out of control. There is barely a hint anymore of the "real meaning of Christmas" in our cultural celebrations. This year the focus is on spending ourselves out of the recession. That is our Christmas hope. The top ten countdown of Christmas songs at our local school is this week and Christmas carols are on the banned list. But, Christmas is our story so why should we expect the school to tell it. Not their job.
Question is how are we telling it? How are we living it? How are our Christmas celebrations any different from those we see in our culture. If you are tired of the Christmas Rush; if you are looking for some suggestions to keep the real Jesus in Christmas and celebrate it more in keeping with his way of life, check out www.adventconspiracy.org