Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Faith Perspectives: Christmas Is Nearly Here

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Faith Perspectives: Christmas Is Nearly Here

Article excerpt

Just in case you have forgotten, Christmas is nearly here.

It's easy to forget about Christmas. There are plenty of distractions, for one thing, from twinkling lights to annoyingly gleeful elves perched on shelves. Then there are the lists of demands shopping lists, mailing lists, Christmas card lists, party lists. Detours to the manger abound.

Perhaps my sarcasm is showing.

A recent study from the Pew Center shows that most adults in the United States believe that the religious aspect of Christmas has been overtaken by commercialism. That's not a surprise, of course, but the survey also pointed out another truth most of us try to ignore: The number of people who celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday is declining.

Some will say this is a result of the so-called "war on Christmas" and cultural skirmishes over acknowledging a plurality of religious holidays. Some will say that the antidote is to require widespread cultural acknowledgement of Christmas by placing religious symbols on government property. Others will suggest that it's a political issue, or that religious progressives are to blame.

I think there's another issue.

We have allowed ourselves to get tripped up on our own spools of lights, ribbons and packages. The sensual abundance of Christmas eating, drinking, buying, consuming have worked their magic. It's possible we've become too distracted by Christmas and have somehow lost track of its meaning.

Don't think that I'm some sort of Presbyterian Scrooge. I am enthralled by Christmas traditions. They're heart-warming, even the tacky sweaters and gushing holiday letters. There are few things I enjoy more than driving around and enjoying holiday light displays. And, thanks to our intrepid son, we have more lights on our house than ever before.

As a child, I cherished the long winter drives our family would take, hunting down neighborhoods illuminated by strands of vintage green and red C9 Christmas lights. I lacked my son's Santa-like ability to navigate roof tops, but I still urged my dad to put up lights every year. …

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