“Who among the gods is like you LORD? Who is like you – majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” Exodus 15:11
What are believers to do when even “Keep the Christ in Christmas” has become a slogan for profit? Christmas has been thoroughly commercialized; Charlie Brown got that right back in 1965. Over half a century later, we could certainly allow ourselves to become bitter and slink further into the shadows of subculture. But it would be much better to take back lost ground with two powerful weapons of spiritual warfare: truth and love.
Our God is unlike the other gods of this age. Though majestic and awesome, God is also the One who did not despise a manger for His first bed. As Pierce Pettis put it, “No banners were unfurled when God stepped into the world, held in the arms of a little girl named Miriam.” God incarnate was born of a young woman almost universally suspected of adultery. Long before the Magi arrived with appropriately royal gifts, Jesus was heralded by lowly shepherds. Despite all human attempts to co-opt Him, the real Christ of Christmas defies commercialization. He can neither be packaged nor purchased.
While all the weary world recycles ways to remove Christ from Christmas, we can simply tell the truth. Linus did it back in 1965, when he recited part of Luke 2 to Charlie Brown. We can remind ourselves and those whom we meet that God’s love is the only essential gift of Christmas. We do not need reindeer, Santa, or even a budget, but we do need a return to the love that only comes from relationship with God.
The song of Moses and Miriam celebrates that God will lead the people He has redeemed in unfailing love (EX. 15:13). His unfailing love and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit are more than enough to spur us on to yet more love. Perhaps this Advent, we should contemplate the sub-culture that was the early church. What rocked the Roman world was not Christianity’s economic potential or its appeal to sophisticated consumers of religion. It was love. Followers of Jesus loved one another and their enemies as well. Instead of embracing the ultimately unsatisfying holidays or railing against them in anger, let us reclaim our holy days by finding ways and persons to love.
Reprinted with permission from Denver Seminary.
Elodie Emig, MA is an instructor of Greek at Denver Seminary. She joined the adjunct faculty in 1988 and teaches Greek. She became a full-time instructor of Greek in 2004. In addition to her duties at the Seminary, she is also on the adjunct pastoral staff of New Song Church and Ministries and the board of Where Grace Abounds.
Ms. Emig holds an MA in New Testament from Denver Seminary. Since her student days, Ms. Emig has served the New Testament department of Denver Seminary as a grader and guest lecturer. She has also volunteered her exegetical expertise to Where Grace Abounds. She has written numerous articles on the Bible and homosexuality.
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