by Marty Robertson
Sorry. The purpose of this-mini article is not to heighten your anxiety about being ready for Christmas. Instead I would like to challenge us as a church to take Christmas back: to move away from the stress of shopping and over-busyness of the season. I would like to see us place our energy into celebrating the gift of Christ’s presence, not the presents we buy and receive. So why bring this up in September? Because I know that no matter how well I plan out my shopping, carding, gifting and caroling, I still fall headlong into the season feeling rushed and hating the commercialization of the entire event. My suggestion is that instead of just trying to schedule the Advent Season better, that we think entirely differently about it. Advent Conspiracy is an international movement to do away with the scandal of Christmas by substituting compassion for consumption. Check out their website for some ideas of what you might do to make this a reality. (http://www.adventconspiracy.org)
I would like to give some suggestions as to how we might take Christmas back. Here’s my appeal for September: make a goal to change. Here is a good reason: each year it is estimated that Americans spend 450 billion dollars on Christmas. Each and every year! Let that sink in for a minute. Modest estimates attribute about 28% of income in our country to Evangelical Christians. Assuming that we Evangelicals contribute equally to this Christmas expenditure, this would total 126 billion dollars a year; probably more since this is actually a holiday we support, endorse, and rally around more than our non-faith sharing friends. What if… what if we, the Evangelical Church, decided to spend less and give more money away? At least, how about a tithe on our Christmas spending this year? A simple 10% tithe on our Christmas spending would net 12.6 billion dollars. And what if we decided to give a cup of cold water in the name of Christ? How else might we spend our money at Christmas? More people die of water-born illness than anything else in the world. The price tag for getting wells and water education to everyone who needs it in the world is about 10 billion dollars. Our one time tithe could fund all the wells and water education necessary to bring an end to thirst. I know this is a bit “Pollyannaish,” and I often set my goals a bit high, but I also see this as an easy way to set our trajectory on being people of the Kingdom of God. “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Take back Christmas. Help build the Kingdom.