Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Wars miss the point

Welcome the Christ-child
Jesus stood up to read... “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” ... Then he said, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” - Luke 4:16-21
If you read this space on a regular basis (and it appears that several hundred of you do) then you already know that I like to include photographs that tell a story. The quality that makes a photograph journalism is the element of story.

I take photographs for my magazine and newspaper articles, and I always tell the people I interview that, "We'll try for art but I can't guarentee it... but I will promise you a story people won't forget." Sometimes a poor-quality image (grainy, unflattering portrayal of the subject, poor lighting etc...) can still tell a great story.


NUTS: Take Rebekah's favorite nutcracker, for example. This guy is a bishop. He caught my attention a couple of minutes ago when I walked by. I tried to imagine what his reaction might be regarding some of the foolishness that is characterizing this year's installment of the ongoing "Christmas Wars" saga in North American culture.

The bishop guy doesn't exhibit much variety in expression, but I think the picture on the right says it all. I mean, really, what else is there to say other than the jaw-dropping "REALLY?" I'm not quite sure, but I think he may let loose the occasional "ARE. YOU. SERIOUS?"

Personally, I'm not so sure that much of what gets passed off for Christmas here in the USA is anything other than the tawdry promotion of nostalgia, and a carefully cultivated marketing campaign designed to boost the economy.

GIVE ME A  BREAK! As to the screaming (literally) controversy of "Holiday trees" versus "Christmas trees," the use of public buildings to promote one religion over another leaves little doubt that many people believe Christianity is America's "State Religion." Ironical, wouldn't you say, in light of our history? I can't think of much else that could be more harmful for both the church and the United States.

simple manger
But I guess what bugs me the most about "The Christmas Wars" is the way the whole debate misses the Good News of the Gospel by such a wide margin.
And so the television cameras record angry religious folk maligning the rise of secularism, bad-mouthing "liberals" and mixing in political references to "good conservative values." Thanks a lot; I'm sure that's just what Jesus was looking for when he nestled into a feeding trough with his exhausted parents and drew his first breath in the struggling world he came to offer his gift of peace, hope, joy and love....

Meanwhile, in tens of thousands of faith communities throughout the country, millions of Jesus Followers are quietly serving the poor, proclaiming release to the captives, helping the blind recover their sight, offering freedom to the oppressed, and proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4:18-19)

"I've got your Christmas cheer right here!"
THE STORY: So let's not be confused. This picture, taken at my small-group Christmas party, represents a riot of cheer, celebration and concentrated goodwill. However, we all understand that the most eloquent retelling of the Jesus narrative will "go live" 365 times over the coming year, and it will be told in the way we allow Jesus to live in and through us as we:
  • Love without reservation,
  • Serve the poor,
  • Demonstrate release from our own prisons,
  • Share the power of the message with others in captivity,
  • Help those who don't see clearly to witness God's love in new ways,
  • Offer freedom from addiction and pain and debt and bitterness and floundering and.....
  • Tell the truth about the Gospel of Jesus, simply by being...
In other words, to live as if the story is true and to live as if we really are redeemed - DEREK

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