Christmas is increasingly succumbing to consumerism, says the Right Rev Dr Graham Redding, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand.
“Lured by holiday sales and interest-free deals, many people feel pressured to buy gifts that they cannot afford. Behind the glitter, the reality for many is financial stress and over-consumption of everything including alcohol, leading to mental and emotional suffering.”
More important than the giving of gifts, says Graham, is the giving of ourselves and a focus on building and maintaining good relationships. This is especially so for families. “The holiday season should be about quality time with family and friends, the sharing of joy and prayer, the celebration of belonging to something and someone so much larger than ourselves.”
Graham acknowledges that Christians can be as influenced by advertising as anyone else but says Christ should be the greater influence.
“Easter faith has given way to a Christmas faith – a kind of nostalgic longing for an eternal season of cheer and goodwill that turns Santa and the baby Jesus into cultural bedfellows. Santa parade one day, nativity play the next. Christmas stockings and Advent calendars side by side.”
It is unfortunate that Christmas is overshadowed by Easter, Graham says “but there’s nothing cute about the Crucifixion, nor the Resurrection for that matter”.
What the Church would like to see Graham says is a return to celebrating Christmas in its wholeness and holiness. “Goodwill towards others, hospitality, reconciliation and forgiveness are only words in festive cards unless we live them”.
Notes to reporter:
The Presbyterian Church is the third largest denomination in Aotearoa New Zealand, with more than 400,000 people identifying as Presbyterian in the 2001 Census, and 30,000 regular church attenders
Right Rev Dr Graham Redding
Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand
Senior communications advisor
04 381 8284
027 455 0098