Summary: This is the first message in a series aimed at getting people to re-evaluate how they observe Christmas. I've drawn some ideas from Mike Slaughter's book "Christmas Is Not Your Birthday."

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AM Sermon preached at Central Christian Church December 1, 2013

A Different Kind of Christmas sermon series Message 1 “Expect the Unexpected”

Okay so I went to the store Wednesday evening to pick up a few things we were wanting to have in our Thanksgiving dinner and when I walked in the door of Wal-Mart, the first thing that caught my eye was this (hold up paper), the early edition of the paper with all of the Black Friday sales ads in it. Or should I say, the pre-Black Friday Thanksgiving Day sales and the Black Friday sales ads. My first reaction when I saw this was “wow that paper’s huge!” I knew right then, I had to spring for the $1.50 to have one---not so I could plan my Black Friday shopping spree because we’d already made plans to spend Friday in Indiana visiting with Lori’s side of the family. No, I wanted a copy of this paper for this morning, to hold it up and use it to illustrate that this is what the world has made of Christmas. Now please don’t take me wrong and immediately tune me out. I don’t see myself as some type of Grinch or Scrooge who stands in opposition to all the gift giving that goes on. I’m not saying this is all bad, folks. And I’m not going to stand up here and tell you shopping on Thanksgiving Day or Black Friday is a sin. What I am saying is that this newspaper in many ways symbolizes what Christmas has come to mean to many people in the world---and that’s more than sad, it’s tragic.

Very quickly let me share some bits and pieces from the ads--- Guitar Center suggests that if you buy from them you’ll be able to “give the greatest feeling on earth...” ToysRUs suggests by shopping at their store you can “make all their wishes come true!” Sports Authority claims “there’s nothing like the gift of sport.” The Sleep Number store claims their New Tech-e Pillow is “Everyone’s must-have gift.” Then of course not only are advertisers suggesting that through your purchases at their stores you can make everyone feel wonderful most of them are saying you can do an even better job of that if you buy at their store because their store offers special financing----the front page of h.h. gregg’s ad says you can save up to 40 percent or more and have 24 months special financing; elsewhere in the add they offer 12 month special financing and 48 month special financing. Rothman furniture store’s ad boasts 5 year’s of special financing! Special financing is another way of saying buy now and pay later and pay later and pay later and pay later and pay later... This Hallmark store ad came in the mail it advertises using phrases like “surprise them all season long,” “here comes the fun” “get in the holiday spirit” and my favorite this is bound to tug at their heartstrings and make them want to spend, spend, spend catch phrase was this one “Show them how special they are.” I look at all this and I can see why Mike Slaughter wrote in his book “Christmas Is Not Your Birthday,” “Christmas has been hijacked and exploited. We have professed allegiance to Jesus but celebrate his birth with an orgy of materialism.”

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