On the first Sunday of Advent I asked the ten Sunday School children, “Who will come to us on Christmas Day?” In one voice they said: “Santa!” Sunday School children talking! That sums it all up: The battle for Christmas is lost. It’s fanciful to talk about ‘bringing Christ back into Christmas’. The world has won. Money always wins.
Look at the shopping frenzy in the supermarkets even before the school holidays began! Reality speaks louder than pious prayers. It’s all about buying presents and spending big. And the underlying pain and dissatisfaction with it all is felt by the perpetrators of the ‘crime’ as well. But we are trapped! We don’t like it ourselves but we go with the flow – not to offend, not to disappoint, not to lose love. We are caught. We Christians are compromised. The world has won.
The sacrament of Christmas – the heart of Christmas – is not the sacred sacrament of the bread and the wine but it is secularized bread and wine itself, divorced of sacredness: food and drink – the more, the better. The sacrament of the world these days is the eating and the drinking itself, one of the heart’s biggest loves. What is good, holy and enjoyable food, today is idolized.
Christmas is about a child but is above all for adults. Christmas is about poverty, sin, forgiveness and new life. Christmas is about divine intervention and radical change. Christmas is a declaration of war against the values of this world, materialism, self-worship, idol worship – all the things we worship today. Christmas is about the rejection of God in our world – no room in the inn –, about the Son, the outcast, the persecuted from the very beginning, even as The Babe. Christmas today in our world is a symbol of the decadence and lostness of a world without hope.