Glencairn Methodist Church
"Stores airbrush Christ out of
You may have seen this headline in a daily newspaper recently. The story continued, "Supermarkets were accused of "airbrushing" Christ out of Christmas after it emerged that less that 1% of cards they stock have religious themes." The survey covered four of the big supermarket chains in the UK and concluded that only 45 card designs out of a total of 5363 (0.84%) have Christian themes. It was claimed by Don Horrocks of the Evangelical Alliance that "this was evidence of the speeding up of the trend of stripping the religion out of Christian festivals" and by Stephen Green of Christian Voice that "the situation is caused by managers subscribing to political correctness and the idea that in some way Christian cards are offensive to other religions. This is simply not true." [Daily Mail, 11 December 2010, page 22.]
This set me thinking, so I decided to carry out a classification of the Christmas Cards that we received.. I looked at both the picture on the front of the card and the message inside. Broadly, of the 64 cards we have received so far,.29 (45%) could be classified as "religious" and 35 (55%) as "secular", although 33 of the 35 were "Christmassy" in that they carried a "Merry Christmas" greeting albeit with a non Biblical picture. [Fuller details of the analysis follow as a PS and can be safely ignored by those who see this as a sign that I should get out more. Well, I would have only the snow closed the entire golf course.]
Should we fret about this, as Stephen Green and Don Horrocks suggest we should? I think we should and I think that in future we should send Biblical themed Christmas cards as a small reminder to our friends that we are not ashamed to declare ourselves to be Christians. The greatest threat to Christianity at least in the western world is the advance of what Alan Billings and others call "secular humanism". But more of this in a future message.
Another thought I had was that even our Biblically themed cards do not venture into what is perhaps the hidden and unmentioned aspects of the Incarnation. There is no mention of the Slaughter of the Innocents of Bethlehem and the Flight to Egypt, or of the prophesy of old Simeon that "a sword would pierce Mary's soul" reminding us that Jesus came to suffer and to die.
Well perhaps we should just enjoy the warmth of the Nativity stories and the feast of the Christ-mass. Even the Church's Calendar postpones Stephen's martyrdom to 26th, the slaughter of the Holy Innocents to 28th and Simeon's prophecy to the end of Epiphany and the Presentation on 2 February.
So dear reader, slow down for now, enjoy the midnight communion tonight if you can get to one through the snow, enjoy the Christmassy feel of tomorrow, and give thanks that the Son of God came to dwell amongst us for a while, but long enough to change the world for ever.
May the joy of the angels,
The eagerness of the shepherds,
The perseverance of the wise men,
The obedience of Joseph and Mary,
And the peace of the Christ-child,
Be yours this Christmas.
24 December 2010
NOTE - Previous "Monthly Messages" are archived at http://glencairn.connor.anglican.org/previousmessages.htm
PS: I confess that 11% of the cards we sent out were secular. My excuse is that they were left over from last year.
The analysis of the 64 Christmas cards received in our house by 24th:
Secular pictures: Robins, Pillar Boxes, Snowy scenes, Holly, Trees Decorations, The twelve days
Nativity pictures: Journey to Bethlehem, Crib, Stable, Shepherds, The Star, The Magi
Secular text: typified by "Season's Greetings"
Christmas text: typified by "Merry Christmas"
Biblical text: includes some of the words Christmas, Love, Joy, Peace, Blessings, and perhaps a Bible verse from the Gospels, the Prophets or the Psalms
RED cells contributed to the Secular total and BLUE cells to the religious total