‘He is stolen, and it is not harmless!’
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 and 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 unadulterated bliss 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, Consumerist 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 ‘Christ-mas’, 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 who has been stolen, indeed ‘They have stolen Him away’. Walking around the shopping mall gives little 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 is ‘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, they will but 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; about being free to cherry-pick what I want to consume; about having 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 have descended into 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’. What I have called Quantum Mission (see Here).
The real ‘reason for the season’ has been stolen from the shopping mall, and society in general. The result is, as described by a former British Prime Minister, the ‘slow motion moral collapse of society’. The Santa cult is not harmless but, with its own unholy ‘Trinity’ of Materialism, Consumerism and Hedonism, 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 most 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 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 Christians must wake up and the church must be set free (unbound) from its own ‘gods’ of form, style, tradition 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.
One way to do this is to insert Christian content into those BBQ type conversations many of us will have, and maybe politely suggest that the name Christmas might have some beneficial relevance to our lives and to what is happening in society, particularly many of the concerns most people will agree with. This might just plant some ‘Gospel seeds’ that can grow in the person’s life.
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 sadly-
He is stolen and it is not harmless!
It’s not harmless because it is the reason for the ‘slow motion moral collapse of society’. We can however bring Him back by words we intentionally use, by our actions, and by developing new, creative, entrepreneurial missional strategies for our 21st century now neo-pagan society.