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Christ-like Christmas Contradicts Consumerism

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stop christmas treesMy blog post and YouTube video on rejecting consumerism and celebrating simple Christmas has gained attention. My friend Sunniva wrote in the comments about how she and her mother celebrates a simple Christmas:

We (read my mother and I) celebrate Christmas as an extended birthday. If we celebrate each others birthdays, we do so for Jesus so much more. Perhaps I will write a blog post how we do this, but for now: its a feast that’s Jesus-centered – anticipation begins at least a month before with old and home-made Christmasdecorations and greens from forest floor (no real tree-cutting here) appearing around the house bit by bit, with Christmas music, and by attending church in Advent-time.

On Christmas Eve we will decorate our home-altar with fairtrade-roses, fast from food and water till dark, sing Jesus-songs by the fire, go to Church, cook a vegetarian meal that’s 90 or so percent organically grown and which we present to Jesus before eating, watch the movie The Nativity (and Karl Bertil Jonsson’s Christmas is a must too, a modern Christmas Robin Hood story) and attend midnight mass, etc etc. We give each other a few meaningful presents to commemorate the joy, like fair-trade coffein-free chocolate and tea, something handmade and something useful etc (from this year not wrapped in paper but in a personal reusable gift-cloth-bag), while giving aid to the poor as well.

In short: Jesus is worth a splendid birthday celebration!

The only thing I miss is sharing this beautiful time with more people, wanting to be a minister so I can do that more easily. My dream is to arrange Christmas-retreats with simple feast-food and much prayer.

Jesus Army’s Forward blog has collected a number of different voices on the topic, that deals with the Christmas dilemma: Jesus’ birthday wasn’t celebrated very much in Biblical times (which is why we don’t know the actual date), rather, paganism has influenced the modern Christmas celebration quite a lot and today it’s a mindless consumption feast. At the same time, Christmas expresses love and community and many do connect it to Jesus. Here are some of the thoughts expressed by our fellow Jesus hippies as they try to deal with Christmas in a non-consumerist way:

Carole:

“When I was growing up Christmas was when mum, my brother and I pretended to be a happy family. The truth was the rest of the year we struggled to speak or spend any time in the same room, so Christmas has never held that magical “isn’t it lovely to be together with family” feel.

Since becoming a Christian, I have disliked it more and more. To me it is obvious that the commercial extremes; the immoral overspending; the selfish demands of spoiled children; the lazy drunken revelry and the exclusive, sentimental, natural family obsession, is an anathema to the spirit of Jesus. Despite the message the marketing experts try to tell us, there is more loneliness, despair, suicide, debt and suffering at Christmas than at any other time of the year.

However, as much as I’m happy to pretend it doesn’t exist, that doesn’t feel like the right response. Certainly, we need to be real and honest with ourselves, it would be so easy to enjoy the excuse to indulge, be exclusive with our natural friendship groups, etc. But shouldn’t we as Christians, rather than fear the spirit of the world and hide from it, face it head-on and love those who need loving as inclusively and wholesomely as we can?

I think the mother in me wants to invite all the waifs and strays home, feed them a nice roast dinner, include them and make them feel special. Using the time to be inclusive and bring a bit of Christmas cheer into some lives that need it. Would Jesus object to that?”

Esther:

“Christmas. Should it be loved, adored, avoided, hated or ignored? Whether you are a spritely elf at Christmas or an Ebenezer Scrooge, Christmas presents a bit of a conundrum, especially for Christians. Many seem to fall into one of two camps: the overly-merry-christmas-jumper-wearing kind of Christian, or those who reject the whole thing as a secular pagan ritual that actually has very little to do with Christ these days, if it ever did to start with. But since Christmas is such an important part of our culture, it is at least certain that it is a hard to ignore.

I’d like to advocate a third camp. It is true that the rampant consumerism of the Christmas period is not compatible with the words and life of the Jesus I read about the in New Testament. And it is true that Christmas undoubtedly has pagan roots. But rejecting it outright seems to go against the New Testament wisdom of being wise in the way we act towards those not of the faith and making the most of every opportunity. Christmas is perhaps the biggest and one of the last unquestioned celebrations of Christianity in our western culture. True, it might not be much about Jesus any more, but as Christians we should try and use the fantastic opening it provides to put Christ back into Christmas. We should be in the world, if not of it. I reckon that means engaging meaningfully in our culture, being advocates for the king of the world. After all, who would want to listen to an ambassador from another country who hated the celebration of their own king?”

Mary:

“Human beings are by nature selfish, we have this lovely idea of Christmas being the ‘season of good will’ but really, its the season of rampant consumerism. One trip into town the Saturday before Christmas will show you that, with bickering arguing couples everywhere snatching and grabbing bargains. The devil is good at taking potentially good things and using them to exploit us, to confuse us and use us to spread that selfishness.

Jesus is the absolute opposite to the spirit of Christmas: he is simplicity, he is love, he is truth, he is selfless. He was partying with the poor with no money himself, not feeding the already rich with more stuff. He was on the streets with strangers, not tucked up warm with family.

That Christmas ‘magic’ that is so celebrated is nothing more than a chaotic spirit of greed… But, it doesn’t need to be this way. You can use it. A whole month of promoting who Jesus really is, not what this world thinks, and to find people open and wanting to step into a church, now there’s something!

A man tried to commit suicide at the bottom of my road the other week, threw himself off a bridge. He needs the real Jesus, not Christmas ‘magic’. It’s nice when people have lovely big families to celebrate with, but for everyone else, for those alone, those knowing loss, it’s a time of year that can painfully highlight life’s sadness. For these people Jesus needs to be promoted and offered as the real hope of the world. What better time to do it?”

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The author

Micael Grenholm - a Swedish charismactivist residing with the Jesus Army in the UK.

Micael Grenholm - a Swedish charismactivist residing with the Jesus Army in the UK.

Check out my YouTube channel!

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