During the NFL season, which will soon be upon us again, one of the columns I regularly read is that of Gregg Easterbrook, otherwise known as TMQ. One of the regular features he has had in his column over the last year is on “Christmas Creep,” where he notes the ever earlier appearance of Christmas related events and merchandise in the stores and communities around the world. Over the last year or so, this has morphed into the “unified theory of creep,” and towards the end of last season he ended it, because it had become evident that there was nothing that had escaped this creep.
This immediately came to my mind when I read, “Disney Parks are starting to prepare for Christmas…time to get your Christmas ideas together church.” This just showed up in my Twitter feed courtesy of Stephen Brewster. My first reaction was a strongly negative one. First, to my way of thinking ,such an attitude helps to feed into the consumerist mentality of church. The problem with this is not so much that people move from one congregation to another as a result of this way of thinking, but of greater import, church itself, the gathering together as a faithful community is placed at the same level as going to a movie, the game or a concert, rather than the being the place where we meet the one, “in whom we live and move, and have our being.”
Second, I’m not a fan of following the lead of or imitating the strategies of corporate entities when it comes to planning the activities of the church. As a rule, I think the church needs to become less rather than more corporate, (although I don’t wish to reject all activities of corporations, as most churches, and here I’m referring to any groups of believers gathering together, could use a little rationality in their structures), and in general I’m less sold on the value of attractional over missional approaches to being the church.
Third, although not as important, this approach also means that Christmas will always overshadow the season of Advent.
Yet, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there was one level that this statement was not only true, but also in some ways an understatement. For Christmas is the celebration of the Incarnation, the taking on of human form by Jesus, the second person in the Godhead. From that point of view, there can never really be any Christmas Creep, for we are called to present this incarnational witness on a daily business.
So in that case, the statement, “Disney Parks are starting to prepare for Christmas…time to get your Christmas ideas together church,” is one that is not only timely as we approach the fall, but one to keep in the back of our minds all the time. How are we going to live out the Christmas message of an incarnate God meaningful all year round?