About this time every year, we begin to hear the saying, “Keep Christ in Christmas.” After this admonition, there usually comes the warning about the evils of commercialism that have robbed Christmas of its true meaning. One might wonder where Christianity has come that we need to lecture other Christians about the obvious necessity of having Christ be part of a celebration in his own honor.
Perhaps in our efforts to keep Christ in Christmas each year, we are approaching things in the wrong order. Christ cannot be kept in Christmas unless he is part of our lives in the first place. Telling each other to keep Christ in Christmas is kind of like telling someone to put frosting on a cake before it is baked. Christ cannot possibly be kept in Christmas if he is not already a central part of our lives on the other days of the year. Perhaps we need to clarify what or who is the focus of our lives every day.
In the Gospel, John the Baptist was trying to clarify the focus of the people (John 1:6-28). They asked John who he was. Much to their disappointment he told them he was not the long-awaited Messiah. Rather than focusing on him, John was trying to shift the focus of the people to Jesus, the one to come after him, whose sandal strap he was unworthy to unfasten. John wanted the people to put their focus where it belonged: On Jesus.
For how many more years will we hold forth about the need to keep Christ in Christmas? How long we will continue to blame what has happened to the true meaning of Christmas on the internet, shopping malls and advertisers? Maybe we have been challenging ourselves to put frosting on a cake before it is baked. Perhaps keeping Christ the focus of Christmas gets eclipsed by shopping, endless activities, worries over money and stress because the same things push him aside on all the other days. We might be trying to keep Christ in his own feast before truly making him part of our lives every day. John the Baptist wanted the people to recognize the Light, Jesus Christ, immediately. Unless we try to recognize that Light every day, keeping Christ in Christmas does not stand a chance.
Together in faith,
Very Rev. Christopher Smith, Rector