The Clerk’s Corner, by Rob Riehl, clerk of session, ruling elder
With the need suddenly arising to get a “Thinking of You / Get Well” greeting card, I hurried to the card store and became somewhat unhinged to discover that the usual display racks allocated to such cards had been displaced with Halloween cards along with yet another section for such cards likewise replaced with Thanksgiving Day cards. To add to my discomfort was the intrusion of Christmas music embellishing the holiday atmosphere at the “hard-to-ignore” decibel level. All of this holiday madness before the week of Halloween ! Being the only customer in the store at the time, I queried the cashier on duty, “How can you stand this –hearing Christmas music every workday from now til Christmas? How many times a day can you listen to “Jingle Bells”?” I admitted that I would have a hard time working in such a workplace environment; I would be all “Christmas-ed out” well before the actual holiday! How does this overdose of “triple-play commercialism” affect the original meanings of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas –and how does this blending and blurring of these special days affect our respect and understanding of these disparate days? Ecclesiastes had it right: “To everything there is a season.” There is something to be said about having too much of a “good” thing ! How much hot sauce can you add to a recipe before all you can taste is the hot sauce? How much tuna fish can you eat before it becomes nauseating? Allow me to apply this to other areas: how many instant replays can a televised sport employ before it loses the interest and enthusiasm of the spectators? How much socialism can a democratic-republic absorb before it becomes a socialist government? Churches of all denominations are not immune to the infiltration –and sometimes imposition– of secular humanism with biblical principles. How much of “man’s word” is conflated with God’s Word thus blurring the original message causing confusion of the truth among the believers?. Upon reflection, it is endemic of our present progressive culture that the traditional boundary lines governing the order of things — both commercial and social– have been incrementally and insidiously combined ( the blending ) or expanded ( the blurring ) causing the suffering of unneeded anxiety and distress, leading to chaos and confusion. The secular world for the most part has undermined the true meaning of these three unique days of our calendar year. As Christians we need to “sort through this holiday mix” to recover and uphold their true spiritual purposes –both for ourselves and for those in our sphere of influence!
On Halloween, we enjoy seeing the costumes, the parties, and the “Trunk and Treat” community events. As Christians, we are reminded of the dark demonic presence that exists –the spiritual warfare within us to follow Satan or Jesus Christ. On Thanksgiving Day, we are grateful for so many persons, benefits, and opportunities received in our lives. As Christians, we are thankful for the churches, pastors, fellowship, and discernment using God’s Word to help us navigate through the obliteration and confusion of boundary lines in our daily lives. On Christmas, we are joyful of celebrating the “goodwill” and gift-giving of the day with loved ones. As Christians, we are thankful that God has sent His Son to redeem us, personifying in Jesus Christ THE Way, THE Truth, and THE Life –for us to truly live free from sin, and for the sending of the Holy Spirit to energize us to be “containers of Christ” transforming the lives of those we encounter everyday!
The secular commercial world has no problem with the blending and blurring of what they call the “holiday season”; after all, for them it is all about the money! But for us Christians, we see the importance of framing these special days as distinctly significant to ponder. After all, they point out to us aspects of our spiritual life journey that we must heed ( and be reminded ) :– recognizing our “dark side”– our propensity to sin; our need for humility — to be grateful and thankful; and our reason to be joyful — receiving the gift of Christ, our Hope.