Last Sunday for our ‘Questions about Christmas’ sermon series I pulled your questions at random from a bingo tumbler and just answered them off the cuff. As I warned, sometimes off the cuff Jason quickly slips into off color Jason but I think I was mostly clean.
This week I will try to post responses to the questions that didn’t get pulled and also summaries of how I answered some of the other questions.
Question: Do you even like Christmas? Every year you seem determined to ruin Christmas by preaching on the dark, depressing stories.
Yes, for the record, I like Christmas. Love it.
I hate preaching Christmas though. Hate it.
People complain about the commercialization of Christmas and ‘Happy Holidays’ secularism, but actually I think the greatest threat to a Christian understanding of Christmas isn’t commercialization or secularism. It’s sentimentality.
And people love sentimentality. Believe me. I got a shoe box worth of hate mail the last time I preached Christmas Eve. Actual snail mail.
The problem with sentimentality is that it isn’t true. The Gospels don’t tell a sentimental Christmas story. Jesus is born in to poverty and oppression. His mother would’ve been viewed as an adulteress. He’s born with monsters like Herod and Caesar at this manger. When Jesus is born all the other new born sons are slaughtered- it was not a silent night. And no sooner is he born than his family become political refugees in Egypt.
So when we make Christmas sentimental, we forget the actual story. And when we forget the actual story, we risk forgetting why Jesus came in the first place and why we’re waiting for him to come again.
And on another note, I’d just add that, I grew up up in a broken home that was chaotic and anything but happy. So, I’m aware that when we make Christmas sentimental we’re not only describing something that’s not true about the Christmas story, we’re also describing something that’s not true for a whole lot of people in their own lives.
So for me, making sure Christmas isn’t all cuteness and cheer is a way of making sure those people know the story is for them too. For them especially maybe.