I love the old comic strip Calvin and Hobbs.
Calvin is in an overstuffed chair, his back to the reader. The TV is bouncing wildly on the stand. Calvin is mesmerized. Calvin’s dad is behind him looking over his shoulder at the Television and Calvin says,
“OH LOOK, YET ANOTHER CHRISTMAS TV SPECIAL. HOW TOUCHING TO HAVE THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS BROUGHT TO US BY COLA, FAST FOOD, AND BEER CONGLOMERATES. WHO’D’ HAVE EVER GUESSED PRODUCT CONSUMPTION, POPULAR ENTERTAINMENT AND SPIRITUALITY WOULD MIX SO HARMONIOUSLY, IT’S A BEAUTIFUL WORLD, ALL RIGHT.”
After his dad leaves the room, Calvin, without ever looking up from the set says,
“DAD DOESN’T HANDLE THE SEASON’S STRESS VERY GRACEFULLY.”
Bill Watterson, the creator of the strip, made an excellent point. Consumerism, entertainment and spirituality really are odd companions.
In fact, when you back up and look at it with cool skepticism, the whole thing is . . .well sort of odd.
For example, why do we drag a dead tree into the house and hang gaudy things all over it? What in the world does that have to do with the birth of Christ?
Imagine a stranger from another land visits your house at Christmas. “Why are you doing that?” he asks. “We are celebrating Christ.” “Oh, who is that?” “He’s the son of God.” “I see,” he says, “your god is a tree.” “Well, no.” “Then he was born in a tree?” “Not exactly.” “Born in a forest?” “No,” you reply, “a stable.” Was it a forested country?” “Actually it was semi-desert.” By now he’s really confused, “So was it a wooden house?” “No, probably a sort of cave.” “Any trees in the stable?” “I seriously doubt it. Mostly cows sheep and goats.”
“So why the tree? Uh, . . . I don’t know.” For that matter, why the lights? Why are we climbing roofs, risking life and limb to string lights that don’t work? I don’t know. But it’s what we do.
And I’m not saying we shouldn’t. I love everything we do. I’m just concerned that the real purpose for the party is being lost in the celebration. Jesus is the reason for this season.
Without Christ Christmas doesn’t make sense.
Let me suggest two things that will help to keep the purpose in your Christmas preparations.
First, don’t allow the busy preparations to keep you from His quiet presence.
Second, in preparing for Christmas don’t allow your material passions to overshadow His spiritual purpose.