I was sitting and watching my daughter Sari’s “Winter Concert” this last Christmas and I was struck by the “Santa” narrative that was so PERVASIVE throughout the event.
It was all about Santa and reindeer, elves and presents.
That was it. Nothing else. The religious and historical significance was COMPLETELY bleached out of the concert. No mention of Jesus or Bethlehem or Mary and Joseph or the visiting Magi. No mention whatsoever of why Christmas is celebrated. It was completely hijacked by the “Santa” narrative.
I wasn’t mad… just bummed.
I don’t blame the schools.
It’s just not culturally acceptable to mention that the birth of Jesus during the Christmas season. Schools often get stuck in the crossfire of religious or atheistic special interest groups. And they have to navigate these tricky waters on both sides. Sari’s elementary principal is a godly woman.
I don’t blame Walmart
or any of the many retail stores that survive on the gift-giving practice this time of year. Their job is to sell stuff. Sure I would like it if they acknowledged what this season really represents, but it’s not what keeps them in business.
To be honest, we really should be blaming ourselves.
At least I do. It’s convenient to blame the school music teacher, or the local atheist group, or even Target or Walmart. But they don’t run my family… my wife and I do. It’s not the school’s job to teach the story of Christmas, it’s my family’s job and our faith community’s privilege. It would be nice for other organizations to recognize the real reason for Christmas, but I don’t expect it.
I don’t think the answer is campaigning or complaining, rather it’s about living out the story of the Gospel wherever and whenever. It’s easy to think about this kind of thing during a holiday like Christmas, but are we living out the Gospel all year long?
Does our daughter’s Kindergarten teacher see the story of Jesus Christ in the way we live our lives?
Do we engage in excessive spending because it’s socially acceptable to rack up year-long credit card debt to get our kids whatever they want?
Do we take advantage of this seasonal opportunity to engage with the story of Jesus first coming and early life? Wesleyan Kids has great Advent resources to help at church, but they could also be used in the home as well.
There are things we can control in life and things we cannot. Changing current culture begins and ends with God’s people believing and living out the Gospel. So while I was bummed as I sat in the Hayward Primary School Gym when it was all about the “Santa” story, I smiled at the opportunity and privilege my wife and I have to embed the story of Jesus and the Gospel into our family. We all need to take advantage of these seasonal opportunities.