• David Schrader, PhD

Missing from the Marketplace




On November 18, the Liberty Counsel released its annual “Naughty and Nice Retail List” of businesses that either “recognize and celebrate Christmas” or “silence and censor Christmas.” This year, Target, Gap and Walgreens are among 13 companies that have been placed on a Christian conservative legal nonprofit’s “Naughty List” for failing to spotlight Christmas during the holiday season.


The compilation criticizes companies that the organization believes are not doing a good enough job of spotlighting the true meaning of Christmas in their holiday-themed branding.


According to the list, Target is “naughty” because the retail corporation “has surprisingly few mentions of ‘Christmas,’” though it does have “references to ‘pack your season full of merry’ and offers ‘seasonal ugly sweaters’ and a ‘secret gifting room.’” The pharmacy chain Walgreens “refers to the term ‘holiday’ frequently and only one reference to the term ‘Christmas’ on the website.”


Meanwhile, Gap has “no references to ‘Christmas’ or any biblical elements within product associations and advertisements.” Other businesses named on the “Naughty List” include Barnes & Noble, Burlington Coat Factory, Dick’s Sporting Goods, J. Crew Outfitters, The Limited, The Loft, Lord and Taylor, Rite Aid Pharmacy and TJ Maxx. [1]


“Christmas is not the main focus of the holiday season at Rite Aid,” the list states. “The company uses phrases such as, ‘Holiday shop,’ the ‘destination for all your holiday needs’ and ‘shop Rite-Aid for the best holiday offers’ without any mention of the real reason for the season.”[2]


The world’s assault on Christmas is nothing new. It has been happening for many years. They have tried to remove Christ from the public arena and from his rightful place of worship at this time of the year. Retailers have also continued their efforts to delegitimize the meaning of Christmas because they don’t want to offend anyone who may not believe in Christmas.

The very first Christmas offended people too. King Herod was troubled upon hearing that there was a king born to the Jews. Matthew 2:1-3 records Herod’s reaction as follows:


Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem.

Herod feigned an interest in the news, telling the Magi that he wanted to know where the child was born so he could go and worship him too. To Herod’s great dismay, the Magi left Bethlehem, having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod. Matthew 2:16-18 records Herod’s horrific reaction:


Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance. Herod’s brutal action fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: “A cry was heard in Ramah— weeping and great mourning. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted, for they are dead.

Thankfully, Joseph and Mary had also been warned by an angel of the Lord to flee Bethlehem and go to Egypt as Herod carried out his slaughter of innocent children.


The hatred of the Christ child and his followers continues to this day. Why? The story of Christmas, while welcomed by many, has been an offence to others. Genesis 3:15, tells us why. God said to Satan in the presence of Eve, “I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” The followers of Jesus are at enmity with all those who refuse to follow Christ. Not because they want to be, but because Satan puts animosity in the hearts of his followers towards Jesus and his followers. Jesus warned his disciples in Mark 13:13, “And everyone will hate you because you are my followers. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”


Christmas has always been a story of stark contrasts. On the one hand, it’s a story of hate and disdain for Christ and his followers, and on the other hand, it’s a story God’s love, of worship and gift giving.


No one better illustrates this stark contrast than the Magi. The fact that they are referred to as wise men should say something about their decision to bring gifts to the baby Jesus. The Magi were ardent observers of all the Old Testament prophecies concerning Israel’s coming Messiah. Jesus’ birth fulfilled those prophecies, and the Magi could clearly see that Jesus was the Son of God and worthy of worship.


The Magi would agree with the author of Hebrews 1:1-2 which says, “Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe.”


God sent His Son – the Creator of the universe, to become a baby. It’s no wonder the Magi gave gifts to him that first Christmas. They saw Jesus as being worthy of receiving gifts and being worshipped. Matthew 2:11 says, “They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”

When you hear the wonderful news of Jesus’ birth, what kind of response does it evoke in you? Is it hatred and disdain? Or is it worship and giving? I hope for all my readers it’s the latter.


Christmas is all about gifts. First, is God’s unspeakable gift of His Son to the world. Second, it’s our gifts we bring to God through our worship and giving; and third it’s the gifts we give to each other because we remember Jesus’ words, “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”


Christmas is all about the joy of giving that comes from knowing Jesus. Let me illustrate. Livia Satterfield Young was a 12-year-old girl in a Romanian orphanage when her life was changed--forever--by an Operation Christmas Child shoebox. (Operation Christmas Child, uses gift-filled shoeboxes to demonstrate God’s love to children in need around the world.)


Livia was an orphan for 10 years. She described a lack of food, hygiene supplies, and no feeling of love and happiness. She said, “Some days our food supply was so low that all we had was a piece of bread that was hard as a rock and moldy. We also wore the same clothes for a week. We had only one toothbrush which we shared with hundreds of other children.”


Livia longed to feel someone’s love and warm embrace. She said, “I wanted to feel like I existed in this world.” That all changed when the ministry delivered shoeboxes full of personal hygiene items, school supplies and toys to her orphanage. The same day, an American missionary group also came, and Livia met a woman named Connie. Livia said:


Before we opened our boxes, they shared with us about people who packed them because they loved us. I was so mesmerized by the word “love.” And then, they shared “the greatest news of all.” That there’s a God, and He gave His one and only son who died on the cross for me because He loves me. God made this possible through a simple gift. It sparked so much love, joy and hope in my life.


The same year Connie arranged for Livia to stay with a Christian family, and she accepted Christ as her personal Lord and Savior. She said, “I wish I [would’ve] had a mega-sized microphone to tell the whole world I had Jesus in my heart. Two years later when I was 14, Connie came back to Romania, adopted me, and took me home to my brand-new family.” [3]


Just like Livia, God wants to adopt us into his family – the family of God. If we make room for that first Christmas gift – Jesus, God’s Son and trust in him as our Saviour – we can belong to God’s family. Embrace the meaning behind the chorus of that great Christmas hymn, “Thou didst leave Thy Throne and Thy Kingly Crown:


Oh, come to my heart, Lord Jesus! There is room in my heart for Thee; Oh, come to my heart, Lord Jesus, come, There is room in my heart for Thee.

Don’t let retailers rob you of this wonderful news about the real meaning of Christmas.. May you worship him for his great love and salvation and may the gifts you give this season be an expression of God’s first Christmas gift to you.


 

1. Michael Gryboski, “Target, Walgreens named to ‘naughty’ list of companies accused of ‘censoring’ Christmas”, The Christian Post, November 23, 2021.

2. Ibid. bid.Newsletter&utm_medium=email. 3. Jessica Shirey, “Former Romanian Orphan Shares Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Story,” Gant News (10-14-19).

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