Wednesday, December 11, 2002

World magazine's Gene Veith advocates battling gnostic disembodiedness by purchasing Christmas presents:

Yes, but shouldn't we celebrate Christmas more in our hearts, rather than in the shopping malls? And shouldn't this holiday be reserved for Christians? And surely it has gotten way too materialistic.

There is truth in these complaints, living as we do in a sinful and still-fallen world. And yet, Christianity is above all an embodied religion. It is not just a mystical inner state. Christianity has a way of breaking out of the church to influence cultures. And it is very oriented to what is material.

What Christmas celebrates is the Incarnation of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, who became a human being. The Word becomes flesh. The spiritual becomes material.

The Christian life too is not all about private meditation or spiritual exercises, but about living, concretely, where God has placed us. Our vocations are concrete, down-to-earth, and "material": our particular family, the workplace, the local church, the nation.

The buying and selling that characterizes Christmastime embodies the economic exchange by which God regulates vocation. And choosing a gift for someone—and paying its price—is just a shadow of what God has done and continues to do for each of us.

I'm all for battling a disembodied Christian faith, and I hope you are to. Not only do I take this seriously, but I want to encourage you to do your part as well. Therefore, I'm providing the opportunity for you to affirm your commitment to the embodiedness of the gospel and to do so by purchasing a gift...for me.

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