by Lance Olimb
Sometimes I take 20-30 minutes in the car to catch up on the music all the cool people are listening to while I’m streaming neuro-science, sports, and economics podcasts. I’ll drop into the Spotify global top 50 and click through a minefield of terrible, auto-tuned songs (about 12% are decent with a rare gem in the mix). I usually get through 15 seconds of a particular song before I’m sufficiently bewildered and click next. It is tortuous but I feel like I’m keeping tabs on the world while simultaneously earning some "get-off-my-lawn” old man street cred.
Anyway, this week I was startled to find a reminder of Christmas in the play-list. Mariah Carey has once again been launched into the global top 25 with All I Want For Christmas is You (no doubt bolstered by shopping mall playlists on repeat). Somehow it surprised me. I shouldn’t have been surprised. There are endless reminders that the celebration is coming everywhere you look. People don’t even have the decency to properly memorialize all these poor, delicious, thanksgiving turkeys before surging into the Christmas spirit. Red. Green. Lights. Music. It’s always the music.
Everyone celebrates Christmas and, I reckon, that is mostly a good thing. At a minimum it gives us an opportunity to think about what Christmas is. There are a lot of answers to the question, "What is Christmas?" You’d start with the Wikipedia answer about commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ but would end up talking about reindeer and live trees being dragged into living rooms.
In the midst of all the discussion surrounding Christmas we want to take some time to focus on Christmas as doctrine. I know, I know. It sounds boring. But for Christians we must remember that Christmas is more than celebration, it is affirmation. More than commemoration, it is declaration. God came in the flesh. This is our faith. It binds Christians through the ages. Consider 1 John 4:
“This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God…”
This Christmas we are going to consider what John meant when he wrote those words. In short, this Christmas we are going to spend some time remembering that Christmas is not mere celebration (though it should be celebratory!) . It is also a doctrine central to our faith.
Christmas is creed.
Listen to the 2017 Advent sermons here