My publisher, Tad Long, passed along an interesting article from The Indianapolis Star:
"Along about now, pulpits and church newsletters bristle with whining about the culture's theft of Christmas.
There's the so-called "commercialization of Christmas." The manic retail spending but hesitant church pledging. Bustling malls but empty pews. Spotlights on Santa Claus but not on Jesus. The 'taking Christ out of Christmas.'
Need I go on? We'll even gripe about the people who finally do show up en masse on Christmas Eve and then scorn them for not being there every Sunday.
Never mind that these paradoxes are precisely the same as the cultural context into which Jesus was born. Never mind the teachable moment, the opportunity for compassion. Never mind that the religious holiday called Christmas has been a political and cultural icon from its inception.
This annual whining is a perfect expression of why many churches dwindle to irrelevance. This is "provider-driven" religion. We are blaming people for not wanting what we provide. It would be far better for us to ask ourselves: Why don't we provide what they want?"