“The commercial spirit is the spirit of profit, not patriotism; of credit, not honor; of individual gain, not national prosperity; of trade and dickering, not principle.”—Lincoln Steffens, Author
Christmas has become too commercial! I’m sure you’ve heard that refrain a lot. I wondering if you would concur. COMMERCIAL means concerned or engaged with commerce (the activity of buying and selling and social dealings between people). It also means making or intending to maximize a profit; having profit rather than another value as an aim/motive. In commercials, companies are funded by revenue from broadcast advertisements. Many would identify Christmas as a bastion of commercialism. Look at the kind of turmoil Black Friday elicits!
A Small Business Trends article details some history/rationale behind the commercialization of Christmas. It mentions everything from the creation of glass ornaments and Elf on the Shelf, to Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday. It tells how ads from Coca Cola in 1930’s news outlets like The Saturday Evening Post turned the somewhat spooky looking Dutch character Sinterklaas into the jovial marketing machine we now know as Santa Claus. Of course you meet him and get your child’s photo taken in the local mall…for what is now a not so small fee.
Sadly, the commercialization of “Christ’s Mass,” intended as a service of worship celebrating the incarnation, has also engulfed many Christians. The phrase “buying and selling” above, made me think of Jesus cleansing the Temple of commercialism. The shady business deals and extortion of worshippers who wanted to sacrifice animals or exchange their currency for coins accepted in worship angered Him. “When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and he stopped everyone from using the Temple as a marketplace. He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.” When the leading priests and teachers of religious law heard what Jesus had done, they began planning how to kill him. But they were afraid of him because the people were so amazed at his teaching.” (Mark 11:15-18)
The buyers, sellers, and money changers, like stores and advertisers today, were motivated only by profit. Now, I’m not here to ruin anyone’s shopping sprees or family gatherings. I’ve bought presents. I am suggesting that we as Christ-followers remember this ‘holy day’ (holiday) is about Jesus’ birth—and that we intentionally choose to worship Him and spread that message. Let’s not be so distracted by the commercial that we neglect the sacred. Christ is born. Christ is risen. Christ will come again!