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Christmas in July

Christmas in July… just wondering, did you find any good sales?  Every year merchants use this theme as a marketing strategy to boost waning sales as our shopping slows down a bit during the summer.  For at least a few weeks, we would rather buy Knorr’s Ice Cream and funnel cakes, than invest in big ticket items like dryers and kitchen cabinets.  Soon we will be looking for Back to School sales, but in mid-summer Americans typically slow their buying frenzy.  And especially this year, with inflation impacting the price of everything, from toilet paper and eggs, to gas and utilities, we are being more careful about where we spend.  People, who have been able to afford day-to-day living and still put a little away for the future, now find themselves digging into savings just to pay their regular bills.  Imagine what is happening in those households who were struggling before… The Consumer Price Index shows that those Christmas in July ads did little to entice us to spend more this year.

Yet even though Christmas in July was a failed marketing strategy this summer, I am still fascinated by the concept.  Did you notice what is always missing in these Christmas in July marketing blitzes?  Snow? True our 90+ degree temperatures make the white fluffy flakes a bit hard to come by… but NO, several stores brought out fake white stuff to create the mood.  Christmas Carols?  NO- several stores played Frosty the Snowman and Jingle Bells to try to motivate their patrons.  Santa?  NO- he was featured in several ads this July, and one day he was even standing out on the side of Bethlehem Pike with a sign for mattresses.  So, what is missing in every Christmas in July?  Christ.  No surprise, Jesus often gets left out of Christmas. Yet, every time I am saddened by our secular approach to His birthday.  Our culture has substituted X-Mas for Christmas, with the X as the unknown that we really have no time or interest to know.  And the church has allowed this gradual shift to the secular, feeling helpless in the face of our culture.  Why don’t we speak up… why don’t we declare the truth… why don’t we point to the One who is the Truth?

I know Christmas in July is over… Christmas in December is still months away… and it is 90 degrees out there today, so we may not feel quite in the Christmas mood…  but I want to start now to reclaim Christmas as the celebration of the One who came to bring life.  I am not asking us to imagine a stable and a poor homeless family, or shepherds and wise men, or angels and bright stars.  Instead, I want to look at what St. Paul wrote to the Philippians:
Christ Jesus…who, being in very nature God,    
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped;
Rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,    
He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
Therefore, God exalted Him to the highest place
 and gave Him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,  
in heaven and on earth and under the earth  
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,  
to the glory of God, the Father.
Philippians 2:6-11
Notice the humility… the sacrifice… the celebration of the One who poured Himself out for us.  That’s Christmas!  People often say that Christmas is about giving, but they are talking about things.  Here, Jesus is giving Himself away to save a world lost in sin.  St. Paul calls the followers of Jesus to adopt that same sacrificial nature.  His preface to the passage above reads: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5) We are called to be humble like Jesus, sacrificial like Jesus, even willing to pour ourselves out for another- His love moving and shaping our gift to those around us.

I know Christmas in July is over… but I am wondering if we can offer our sacrifice today to celebrate the One who gave His life for us.  Perhaps that sacrifice will come as you help a neighbor, or listen to a friend, or work for peace in an embattled situation.  Perhaps you will want to support our Deacon’s efforts to help our preschool families with school supplies for the fall.   The Deacon’s Fund is accepting donations so that they can give gift cards to allow the families to purchase what they need.  Perhaps you will add a few more items to your shopping cart this week for the Barclay food drive so that another family will have food on their table.  Every act of sacrifice celebrates the Christ who sacrificed His life for us.  What a privilege to follow in His footsteps!

With you celebrating Christmas every day,
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