In this article posted in the DailyNews, members of a retirement home are angry because they have been told there will be no Christmas tree this year. The company has allowed the tree for the last four years but apparently has decided that no menorahs or Christmas trees are allowed. No religious symbols. My response….I could care less.
I know this may seem anti-Christmas (it really isn’t). It also may even to some seem as anti-Christian (it REALLY isn’t). I’ll explain briefly but past that it would start to look like I really do care. One of the residents was quoted saying:
“I’ve got grandkids and they come here and now they’ll ask, `Grandpa, where’s the Christmas tree?’ Then I’ll have to explain that someone said we couldn’t have one. What kind of message is that sending to the kids?” Greenis asked
My advice to Mr. Greenis would be “Tell them about Christ.” Christmas trees and all the events that go around the holiday are fun. I take my family to see lights, we play music, and of course we have a tree. The problem I struggle with are the distractions of Christmas from the purpose of Christmas. I see it as I look back on how I received presents as a child. I see it when my boys receive their Christmas presents. I see it in adults. It’s idolatry.
To look at something other than Christ and to put value in it becomes idolatry. I know these people are making sacrifices to the tree or singing chants around it. The point is that this tree is not about Christ. It’s about a culture we live in that has persuaded the Church that this is somehow a sacrament when it isn’t.
The Church will soon realize that things will only get worse before they become better. Therefore till Christ returns we must preach the Gospel of salvation. And during this season let our message be that “Christ is the Lord and let praise forever be!” Not “Christmas tree o Christmas tree.” If that’s what is happening then my vote is to get rid of the tree too!
Because we are, each of us, the image of God, we will worship, in fact we must worship, someone or something, either our original, as we should, or, with the illusion that we are the original or our own ultimate point of reference, ourselves. If the latter, we will give ourselves over, with the full, still efficient resources of our imaging capacities, to some figment, some distorted image, focused on ourselves or on some aspect of the world, ultimately seen as an extension of ourselves. What Calvin observed long ago is no less true today: the human heart, our image-bearing and image-fashioning nature, is an idol factory.
Richard Gaffin from “Speech and the Image of God” in The Pattern of Sound Doctrine