Tuesday, December 02, 2008

It's about Jesus, not Wal-Mart
by John C. N. Hall

Wal-Mart doesn’t get it.

I believe it was about July 19th when I spotted the Christmas aisle being stocked for the first time at Wal-Mart this year. A clerk, wearing a happy blue and yellow “How May I Help You” vest, was stocking shelves with three-foot-tall, internally lighted, plastic Santas and snowmen. When I suggested to him that it was a little early for such sales, he informed me, “This way they don’t have to warehouse them.”

I stumbled away imagining some distant Wal-Mart warehouse manager on this hot July day, relieved to be rid of the holiday lawn decorations, and now able to receive the boxcar loads of multicolored icicle lights and pre-flocked artificial Douglas firs that had been made by deprived workers in pitiful conditions in China and Bangladesh who knew nothing of Wal-Mart or Christmas.

For Wal-Mart, Christmas is simply a six-month-plus plan to strategically increase annual revenue.

In reality, Christmas has more to do with those workers in Bangladesh than with Wal-Mart. After all, Christmas is the remembrance of the birth of the Christ child, born to a poor, unwed, teenage mother and a laborer father in a barn in a distant land.
And Joseph went up from Galilee to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Plastic yard snowmen aren’t it. Christmas is about the birth of a poor child in a forgotten place. Christmas is about the promise of God, given by the herald angels:
Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Wal-Mart doesn’t get it, but I hope you do. Please join me in worshipping the Lord and celebrating the birth of the Holy Child at the Mass of Christ – Christmas.