I entered the large shopping complex and there He was, front, centre and large, enthroned in his palace. There He was, ‘the reason for the season’. The One who is always encouraging the children to come to him, and woe betide anyone who want to stop them. They know (for they have been taught) that this smiling face is the source of goodness, of blessing, of joy.
So it’s that time again. Arguably the major religious festival of the year, the crowds are gathering, many planning to be at home to spend this ‘worship’ time with family. Indeed, it is common to hear it said that “spending time with family, particularly the children, is what it is all about really isn’t it”.
As I reflected on this scene, the lines of children coming to Him, eyes full of expectation as His welcoming smile beamed down on them, into my mind came another scene. This was not one of happiness but of a woman’s grief, pain and loss, a woman who cried out “they have taken Him away and we don’t know where they’ve put Him”. In my reflection, I was tempted to apply that cry of loss to this current great religious festival, this worship of the beaming figure in the shopping centre who has society in bondage.
Santa Clause, Father Christmas, Santa are the names he goes by, but whatever: He and his attractional spirits whose names are Materialist, Consumer and Hedonist (good time-ist) has society in thrall at this special religious time of Santa-Mass.
Oh yes we might say, but it’s harmless really, just a time for a break at the end of a hard year, and the opportunity to have a good time together, to catch up with family and friends, and so what if we spoil the children a little and go a bit overboard with the presents? These, under the smiling gaze of Santa, are the ‘Reason for the season’ aren’t they? This is certainly the impression that a tour of the shopping mall gives for ‘They have stolen Him away and we don’t know where they have put Him’.
What has been stolen? The answer to that question can be found in the name. The name of this time is still Christmas, although Satan is working hard to get it renamed and slowly succeeding! However, in that name is the word, title, of Christ, it is He has been stolen, indeed ‘They have stolen Him away’. Walking around the shopping mall gives no hint of why Christmas is called that, for he is stolen and it’s not harmless.
Those lines of children, aided and abetted by their parents, are being taught to engage in a ‘worship’ experience, the focus of that ‘worship’ being themselves. It is being reinforced that life is all about them, for them to have, choose, enjoy only what they want. They are being raised to join what is increasingly the ‘Selfie-stick’ society in which it all about me.
Parents will say it’s harmless because they will grow out of it, they will learn that Santa is not real. Yes, but the ‘power’ behind him is, and they will become older children, adolescents, adults who continue with the ‘Santa’ religion, ‘Santianity’, where life is symbolized by the selfie-stick, that is it is ‘all about me’, about getting what I want not giving, being served not serving, being free to cherry-pick what I want to consume, a life that has to be entertaining and struggle free. Whereas the One stolen from the Shopping Mall gives no such view of life but in fact the opposite, however he is stolen and it’s not harmless.
The cult of Santa is now very large and perhaps the greatest annual symbol that we live in a thoroughly pagan culture which is why those of us who still serve the ‘Stolen One’ must urgently learn how, because we simply don’t know how, to do ‘pagan mission’.
The real ‘reason for the season’ has been stolen from the shopping mall, and society in general. The result is, as described by the former British Prime Minister David Cameron, the ‘slow motion moral collapse of society’. The Santa cult is not harmless but, with its unholy trinity of Materialist, Consumer and Hedonist, is a powerful and growing symbol of that ‘collapse’.
“They have stolen Him away and we don’t know where they have put Him” is true for most of contemporary Australians. But worse, society’s degraded state of spiritual desiccation is now so far advanced that they don’t even know there has been a theft!
The only possible antidote to this is the return of the ‘Stolen One’ to western culture, and the only possible agent for that is the ‘Church’. This is not the church that we mostly see standing on the street corner, but the one portrayed in the New Testament, a Spirit-powered dynamic body (indeed the body of the Stolen One) that conquers the spirits of the age, Santa’s little helpers, the ‘gods’ of the culture. For that to happen the church must be restored, and set free (unbound) from its own ‘gods’ of form, style and doing it ‘my way’, which translates for many church members into “the way I like it!” A shocking resemblance here to the ‘it’s all about me’ mindset of society.
On our expeditions to the shops we will see “The One who reigns supreme in the shopping mall, always encouraging the children to come to him ”for they “know (for they have been taught) that this smiling face is the source of goodness, of blessing, of joy”.
Except he is not, he is a lie! (What is that anagram of Santa again?) It is the real ‘Reason for the Season’ who is the only true source of goodness, of blessing, of joy, but-
He is stolen and it is not harmless!