Annie Sander
Cyber Monday, Bumper Stickers and Joy to the World
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Cyber Monday, Bumper Stickers and Joy to the World

We’ve all seen them: the familiar bumper stickers that say, “Keep Christ in Christmas.” Have you ever stopped to ponder how ironic it is that, during the very season of Christmas, it appears the obvious message of Christ is being rapidly squeezed out of our society by mainstream media and other competing messages?

This year, for example, the message of Black Friday was so loud, it actually started on Thanksgiving Thursday! Certain stores opened at an unprecedented 6:00 am on Thanksgiving Day to cater to those patrons who wanted the best deals and a head start to their holiday shopping. Lines around corners of shopping malls were not an unusual site for drivers-by, carting warm plates of sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie as they traveled to and from their destinations.

A holiday once intended to render thanksgiving to the Almighty God for all his blessings has become a time to get out of school for a long weekend, shop-till-you-drop, and eat a great dinner.

The Monday following Thanksgiving, officially termed “Cyber Monday,” is a day heavily promoted by online retailers touting exceptional bargains to their web-based customers. In 2013 alone, Cyber Monday reached $1.735 billion in desktop spending – the largest online spend in U.S. history. This is consumerism at its best, an ideology that encourages the acquisition of goods and services in ever-greater amounts. A “more is more” mentality.

Even some of our modern Christmas carols perpetuate the false messaging of Christmas. Though “tongue-in-cheek,” the 1953 song “Santa Baby,” written by Joan Javits, is about a Christmas list addressed to Santa Claus by a woman who wants extravagant gifts such as sables, yachts and decorations from Tiffany’s.

Clearly, as a society, we’ve gotten ourselves side-ways. We’ve lost the true meaning of Christmas. Why? Because we’ve forgotten God.

A stark contrast to “Santa Baby,” Isaac Watts’ “Joy to the World” transformed the old Jewish psalm of praise (Psalm 98) into a Christian song of rejoicing for the work God began when Christ came “to make his blessing flow far as the curse is found.” Watt’s Christmas hymn truly captures the essence of the true meaning of Christmas:

 

Joy To The World:
By Isaac Watts – 1719

 Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love

The real message of Christmas is the true story of God becoming a human being in the person of Jesus Christ (John 3:16). Why did God do such a thing? Because he is perfectly just and he loves us, (Romans 3:25-26) and because we were dead in our trespasses and needed a Savior (Ephesians 2:5). Why does God love us so much? Because he is love itself (1 John 4:8). Why do we celebrate Christmas each year? Because it’s great news!

The truth is, Christmas has not been forgotten. The gospel is alive and well! Our challenge is to perceive its truth amid the hustle and bustle of the world. It’s in the hands and feet of those who feed and clothe the homeless on blistering cold nights. It’s in the committed service of the Salvation Army volunteer tirelessly ringing her bell. It’s in the youth group paying visit to the elderly and forgotten.

It’s in our gratitude for what God has done for us, as we remember the gift of his birth, as we worship him, as we bless others in the spirit of God’s love and are especially conscious of the poor and less fortunate.

In your holiday bustle, let those bumper stickers serve as a reminder for you to keep the presence of Christ alive in all your activity, in your personal and private interactions, and within your soul. Be aware of your human desire for “more,” and counteract it with serving those who have less. Acts 20:35 says, “We must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Lastly, sing! Turn up your stereos and sing about the good news of great joy that will be for all the people (Luke 2:10).

The true meaning of Christmas is the glory of God seen in the person and work of Jesus Christ, the outpouring of God’s love upon sinful men who are then compelled to love others in response.

Let every heart prepare Him room!

  1. Susie WynneSusie Wynne12-19-2014

    Awesome! You nailed how I saw and felt about the Thanksgiving shopping debacle! Thank you for speaking out for our Lord!!!!

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