Christmas has become so commercialized. How can I make it more spiritually meaningful?
The Rev. Darrel Proffitt, lead pastor of St. Margaret's Episcopal Church, 5700 W. Sixth St.:
I am not sure when it happened -- maybe we could blame it on the Grinch -- but somebody stole Christmas.
Even when there are attempts to bring it back to where it belongs, the point of Christmas is too often mistaken for some sort of sentimental, "Bing Crosby-like" celebration of the importance of sharing.
Or if it's not that, then Christmas is seen as the time for families to come together and for one brief, shining moment become something that looks like harmony and happiness.
In the midst of all this pressure, we are told that Christmas is about that special present, whether or not you can afford the price tag. This is a proclamation that blasts us from every direction. We intuitively know that Christmas must be about something more than commercialism. Is it about sharing? Is it about family and friends roasting chestnuts on an open fire? Or is there something more?
With the loud ringing of Christmas bells in our ears, it is not surprising that Christmas would feel so empty. No matter how many gifts are under the tree, the pressure is always for more. I am not sure that any family could live into the model of a "television movie" Christmas, no matter how hard they tried. The sad fact is simply this: Our society has forgotten the wonderful and surprising impact that Christmas brings and has replaced it with a guilt-induced frenzy that bears little resemblance to the truth.
So what can you do to make Christmas more spiritually meaningful? Seek and you shall find. I invite you to come to church on Christmas Eve (or any Sunday) to hear the amazing story of God breaking forth into our world, not to condemn us, but in order that we might be saved through the gift of himself. Christmas is about God's love. Christmas is about Jesus. Ultimately, Christmas is a time for you to meet Christ.
How crazy to celebrate Christmas without even knowing the one we celebrate. Anything less is simply a poor, empty substitute. The only thing that makes sense is to hear and believe that "unto us this day is born, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!"
Send e-mail to the Rev. Darrel Proffitt at email@example.com.
Christmas is coming home to the heart
The Rev. Charles Polifka, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, 1234 Ky.:
Stories. That's how I make the Christmas season less commercial and more spiritually meaningful.
Stories whisk me to new depths of understanding. The primary story of the Christmas season is the story of Jesus' birth. The timelessness of Luke's and Matthew's narratives, including the tiny details about packed inns and swaddling clothes and kingly gifts, make that story a springboard to an experience beyond bargains and sales.
The Nativity story has birthed lots of other legends and stories that take the mind and the heart away from noises and tensions, credit cards and shopping lists. Many of those stories center on imagining what the animals, the trees, the shepherds, the Magi, and anyone or anything connected with that mystical night might have been doing or thinking then or now.
The Christmas "spirit," rising out of the Nativity story, has also given birth to innumerable tales and traditions, short stories and classic literary novels. These have added to the spiritual depth of the season. A good Christmas story, whether authored by O. Henry or Charles Dickens or contemporary spiritual writers like Ed Hays, can always rescue me from the mall and carry me home to the heart. That's Christmas: Coming home to the heart. It is there that I find unselfishness, compassion and peace. It is there that I can embrace the unwanted, expect the unusual, and discover life's mysteries without destroying its magic.
Stories are made up of words and dreams that take on "flesh" when I read them. The opening chapter of the Fourth Gospel climaxes with John the Evangelist's proclamation that the "Word became flesh and dwelt among us."
Stories help me enter into that wonderful moment when the "Word became flesh." Stories fill me with the life and the spirit of Christmas.
Send e-mail to the Rev. Charles Polifka at firstname.lastname@example.org.