You know what makes the Hulk really angry? The Christmas season. No, I didn’t say Christmas. I said the “Christmas season.” It’s not just the hyper-commercialization, the extreme stress, or the idolatry of standing in long lines to get a television. There are more variables to it than that. Here are five things about the Christmas Season that make Hulk angry.
1. Snow… Shoveling.
Here’s a little #KnowYourAnon moment. Hulk is a pastor and Hulk hates shoveling snow. Truthfully, I’m not entirely convinced that hell really is a place of fiery torment. I think there’s a real possibility that if Jesus had lived in a place like Buffalo, NY he might have described hell as the place of eternal snow shoveling…a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Now I know there’s a bunch of you summer haters out there who are all giddy when the snow starts to fly. You wait all year long to strap on your ski and snowboarding gear and have a ball. You love living in a winter wonderland, sledding, and hot chocolate. Great! Since you love the snow so much, I just signed you up for snow shoveling duties at the church. There’s no reason for me to be hoarding all of this wintery blessedness for myself. I’ll gladly let you all in on the “blessing.” Here’s how Hulk feels about snow…
Oh how badly the hulk wants to SMASH the guy who came up with the idea of Christmas decorations. Can we just pause for a moment and considered the profound stupidity of decorating at Christmastime? I know it’s a soft spot for some of you but let’s just think about it. As a kid I got reamed out by my parents for leaving lights on when I left a room because it wasted electricity. Then, every Christmas, out come the Christmas lights that we leave on…all night long.
That’s not all. Consider the amount of time, money, and energy that is wasted putting up lights, cutting down trees, assembling fake trees, hanging wreathes, hanging ornaments and all the other pleasantries that come with decorating. Imagine if we put all that time, energy, and money toward bringing electricity and lighting to foreign countries or helping the poor or absolutely anything other than decorating a house.
Oh, wait. There’s more. After roughly six weeks we take it all down. WE TAKE IT ALL DOWN! Oh the humanity! What’s worse is that we usually end up losing half of it and buying more of it the next year and repeating the process over and over.
Every Christmas season we are all met with unspoken traditions to which we must oblige. They don’t make any sense but if we hope to make it through the Christmas season without causing any family or church disruptions, we must comply. They vary from family to family, and church to church, but they are always there. For some families it’s the obligatory visit to this family’s house or that. For some churches it’s the obligatory play, musical, or Christmas eve service.
The thing that makes the Hulk angry is that these obligations stand as social laws that if broken can do real damage. A pastor says, “We’re not doing that play,” and a church member leaves the church. A family member says, “I’m not coming to that event,” and for decades hard feelings are harbored. It’s so sad, and frankly infuriating, to see these obligatory events rip apart happy churches, and close family members. If we were completely honest, we’d recognize these traditions as mere idols in need of smashing for the glory of Christ.
4. Forced Sermon Topics
Probably one of the most difficult things for a pastor to do is come up with a unique sermon topic at Christmastime. I, for one, do not like to re-preach sermons year after year. I know I could probably get away with it but I don’t like doing it. Part of the love I have for preaching is investigating the Scriptures for new insights about old truths. Both Easter and Christmas present an extreme amount of difficulty when it comes to finding a new way to present the same old truth.
Also, there’s the issue of having to work a sermon series around the Holidays. From Thanksgiving to New Years about half of the Sundays are typically “holiday” Sundays. I have a track record of ignoring most holidays and just preaching what God has laid on my heart. Still, not even the Hulk has the strength of will to ignore putting forth a Christmas message.
5. Distractions… Distractions everywhere.
At the end of the day what really makes the Hulk angry about the Christmas season is all the distractions. As we’re hustling and bustling trying to decorate, shoveling the snow, and fulfilling all our church and family obligations we can’t help but miss the essence of Christmas. It’s not about clearing the walks so the church looks nice on Sunday. It’s not about Christmas plays, Christmas Gifts, Christmas Meals, or Christmas decorations. It’s not about family (yup, just said that) or even Christmas-themed sermons. It’s supposed to be about Jesus Christ.
Christmas is supposed to be about the incredible mystery of God putting on flesh and dwelling among men. It’s supposed to be about the fulfillment of prophetic utterances and the wonder of a Messiah who came to give his life for the atonement of our sins. It’s supposed to be about a baby in a manger who literally changed the course of all of history. It’s supposed to be about the awful spiritual condition of men that can only be made right through this little baby who “takes away the sins of the world.”
We are supposed to be awe inspired by Jesus Christ at Christmas. We are not supposed to be enamored with lights, presents, cookies, and wintry wonderlands. Maybe Hulk is a bit of a scrooge, but Hulk would like to SMASH Christmas so all that was left was Jesus Christ. No time to decorate, or shop for gifts, or cook, or shovel, or fulfill church and family obligations.
Hulk wants to see a church so busy worshiping Christ, that all these other things are lost in the magnificent glory of the miraculous God-Man who took on flesh, lay in a manger, died on a cross, and rose again that we might have new life in him. All the blinking lights, the gifts, the plays, the trees, the decorations and the pleasantries simply cannot hold a candle to, or make a single ounce brighter, our Lord Jesus Christ who, alone, is the very essence of Christmas.