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  • Rev Peter Chan (BPCEC)

How Christmas Should Not Be Celebrated

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:6–7)

Christmas is on this weekend! The malls are increasingly getting crowded as I witnessed it during my visits for local coffee and bread toasts post workout. Over the radio, I heard the DJs share that they saw larger crowds in the malls, saying it is a good sign for our economy.

In the Twentieth Century, as the world developed economically, Christmas is celebrated in three ways that are unworthy of the One Who is the reason for the Season.

First, we sensationalise the Truth of Christmas and celebrate it the mythical way. We turned Christmas into a myth, fairy tale, or fable. Christmas becomes “once upon a time, a young virgin, Mary, was pregnant out of wedlock…” So, we have no qualms of ignoring the reason for the season and the celebrations. Like the Chinese Lunar New Year is celebrated because of the legend of the mythical creature “Nian” (年), Christmas is celebrated because of the legend of Jesus born as a fulfillment of some ancient prophecy. We are celebrating for the sake of celebrating, without guilt of ignoring its origins and purpose. So, in many developed countries and cities around the world today, Christmas is celebrated as just another public holiday for reunion with family and friends. Who cares about the Christmas story, be it a fact or fiction!

Second, we secularise the Truth of Christmas and celebrate it the merrymaking way. Christmas does not have to do with Christ, Christianity, and God! It can be just another opportunity for us to indulge ourselves in friendships, feasts, and fun. The religious people can keep their Christmas Story in the four walls of the Church, outside it we can celebrate for self-indulgence. Every year, during Christmas, governments and authorities around the world warn the public against getting intoxicated with alcohol. The message rings throughout the world besides Christmas pops and cash registers, “If you drink, don’t drive! If you drive, don’t drink!” Every year, during Christmas and Year End countdown, all the developed cities in the world experience a spike of fatal road accidents.

Third, we supplant the Truth of Christmas and celebrate it the material way. As affluence spreads around the world, Christmas becomes increasing commercialised. The Truth of Christmas is supplanted or replaced by twisting it as a season of giving – giving of gifts to others and ourselves! The retailers are so good at enticing us to see that we should waste no opportunity to give by buying their products and services as gifts to be given away. The Christmas Story of God giving to us His Son, Jesus Christ, becomes the basis for our shopping indulgence, giving and receiving of gifts. Charities have also learned from the world of commerce, capitalising this season as an opportunity for generosity. There is nothing wrong in fund-raising for charitable purposes, but surely generosity for charity can and should be a character trait throughout the year, and not just an act during the season.

Perhaps, as we are nearing Christmas, I pray that we do have some time to reflect on our way of celebrating Christmas. Are we looking forward to Christmas because of the opportunity for self-indulgence in the ways mentioned earlier?

Dear God, thank You for giving us Your Son. Forgive us for the way we have turned Christmas as an occasion for self-indulgence. Renew in us the meaning of Christmas. Refresh the Truth of Christmas in Your Church, among Your people. The world may celebrate the ways they celebrate Christmas because they do not know the Truth. But we do! We pray n Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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