Thursday, December 20, 2007

Putting Christ in Christmas?


In his book Christmas: A Candid History, Bruce David Forbes "deconstructs" the holiday. He is not attempting to be the Grinch, but he points out that much of what we love about Christmas predates Christianity. Romans, Scandinavians, and others attempted to break the hold of the coldest and darkest time of the year with celebrations that involved hospitality, gift-giving, eating, and drinking.

Forbes points out,

One idea I do not recommend is a campaign to turn Christmas into the purely spiritual holiday it never was. My understanding is that the Christmas message is "incarnation," that God entered fully into the world. So combining Jesus' birthday party with at least some worldly celebrating seems appropriate.

We talk about being a missional people--those who are on mission with God and speaking the truth of God to our culture. Perhaps we should adjust our paradigm a bit and consider Christmas as a model of how the Christian message can engage the culture by breathing the sacred gospel into secular patterns. Is this so different from what God did by becoming incarnate in a baby?

The point is not to "put Christ back into Christmas" (as some would proclaim) but to celebrate Christ not only within Christmas but the whole of our lives. By so doing, we truly become a missional or incarnational people

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