Christmas vs Mammonmas

Posted on December 23, 2011 at 11:18 am,

For Christians, Christmas is a celebration of Christ’s birth. It’s about God forgoing the pleasures of heaven, and becoming a man in order to live amongst us, demonstrate His character, and – ultimately – die and be raised to life in order to reconcile us to Himself. It’s a celebration of God giving Himself to us. One of my favourite carols puts it like this:

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel

All of which makes the secular version of Christmas feel, well, utterly wrong. For many people today, Christmas is a celebration of crass commercialism. This was brought home to me last week when I saw the story of Mekeeda Austin, a 13-year-old who has written a death threat to Santa if she doesn’t get the presents she wants. Her list of demands includes a Blackberry Smartphone and “the real-life Justin Bieber”, and she justifies her letter by saying “I want all of these things and I don’t see why I shouldn’t get them.”

Leaving aside the obvious responses I could make to that comment, this is entirely the opposite of a Christian attitude. The real St Nicholas would likely have had a violent reaction to the idea that we should celebrate Christ’s birth by insisting that we have a right to consumer goods. And Jesus’ attitude to the first Christmas couldn’t be a greater contrast with that of Miss Austin. The carol I quoted above goes on to put it like this:

Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth

On that first Christmas, Jesus went from ruling in heaven to lying an animal feeding trough in a borrowed room, becoming utterly dependant on flawed human beings. And He did it for our sake. The Bible puts it like this:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)

This Christmas, let’s follow Christ’s example and put others before ourselves, rather than get lost in the dead-end of living our lives for the worthless tat that our consumerist society tells us we want and need. Let’s scrap Mammon-mas and instead genuinely celebrate Christ-mas.

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