Summary: Enjoy the season of Christmas, but remember that the season isn’t about the mall. It is about Jesus Christ.

Christmas at the Mall

Matthew 2:1-12

December 2, 2007

Now this is my own personal opinion, but I believe that one of the most fearsome places in Fort Wayne is Glenbrook Mall. I go to the mall and it takes me about 15 minutes to reach my limit. When Toni drags me to the mall, I generally end up either in the soft chairs in front of the Christopher and Banks store, or in one of the soft chairs down at the Barnes and Noble bookstore. I am so glad that Barnes and Noble now have a store out at Glenbrook because they have everything a guy needs to wait out his wife. You can get a comfortable chair, no end to reading material, a cup of coffee, a muffin, and a bathroom! It’s a great place.

Toni usually calls me Scrooge during this time of year. I just don’t care much for all the decorations and parties and Christmas trees and other stuff that have come to define Christmas for us. If it were up to me, we would cut a picture of a Christmas tree out of a magazine and tape it to the living room wall. But that’s not good enough for my wife.

We always have to go out and find a Christmas tree. Had an artificial tree for a few years, but she didn’t like it because it didn’t smell like a real tree. So now, we trudge out to the Christmas tree farm, lash an incredibly expensive tree to the top of the car, and hope that we get home before it slides off into the middle of Leo Road.

But regardless of how much I dislike all of this stuff, I still get dragged to the mall during December. Last week Toni gave me discount coupons from a couple of different jewelry stores at Glenbrook. “Just in case you would want them,” she said. I guess she’s getting jewelry for Christmas…from the mall.

I have some statistics for you. They are five years old, but still tell a story. Did you know that in 2002, the toy industry recorded $30.6 billion in sales by retail stores in the United States? $10.3 billion of this total was from the sale of video games.

Did you know that in December of 2002, U.S. retail sales in department stores totaled $32.4 billion?

Did you know that during the Christmas shopping season of 2002, $13.2 billion was spent in electronic and mail order shopping?

Did you know that in December of 2002, 1.9 million people were employed at department stores?

Did you know that in 2002, there were 46,438 malls and shopping centers in the United States, which was an increase of almost 10,000 since 1990?

Now those statistics are a little old, but I think they can still help us understand just how central mall and shopping centers are in the lives of ordinary Americans like you and me.

I know that we all get sucked in to the mall scene at Christmas. Before Thanksgiving, the decorations were up and Christmas music was being piped in over the PA system. Santa has arrived. Television commercials are in full swing telling us that we have to give particular gifts for Christmas or else look like a cheapskate.

Some of us actually do like the mall scene. Every year, on the day after Thanksgiving, my sister picks my mom up at 6 am to head for the mall to get in on all the pre-holiday sales. My family thinks I’m weird because I think they’re nuts.

But just think about the messages that the mall sends to us about the meaning of this holiday season. If you believe all of the mall hype, you might think that Christmas is all about spending yourself deeply into debt. The malls do in fact; go out of their way to get you to believe that you can buy love from another person.

If you look carefully at people in the mall at Christmas time, you will notice that there are quite a few of them who have worried looks on their faces. We go out of our way to find just the “perfect” gift to someone – or – we struggle to find a gift to give to someone we really don’t like, but feel obligated to. It all creates anxiety. You might come to believe that Christmas means that love hurts. You might come to believe that Santa Claus is the real meaning of Christmas. You might think that the one thing Christmas teaches our children is how to ask for more stuff.

Now I know that we begin Christmas with all sorts of good intentions. I know that we really do want to show people how much we love, care for, and appreciate them. I know that we really are looking forward to finding just the right gift that will make both giver and the receiver incredibly happy. But somehow, something has happened between the Advent of the best gift humankind could ever receive, and the frenzied shopping of modern life.

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