The Christmas-Valentine Switch

Christmastime is when we switch the baby for a fat saint in red and Valentine’s Day is when we switch an old saint for a baby in red diapers (and armed with a deadly weapon at that).

Christmas time is about baby Jesus, who represents incarnation—God with us—on his way to the cross.  Christmas is the first step towards the humiliation of deity (Philippians 2:5-11). This story is all about progressive marginalization: from having “no room in the inn” to being refugees in another country fleeing from a paranoid tyrant and ultimately culminating at the cross. Saint Nicolas before becoming Santa Claus was a bishop who represented grace and generosity known to give to the poor; he was not originally fat and  the subsequent red suit and obesity drawn up as a marketing gimmick.  He has since become a twisted metaphor for an unconscious avoidance of the “uncomfortable” message of The Baby but a symbol of crass consumerism.

Two months later, we are at it again as we celebrate Valentine’s Day which is all about Saint Valentine (Wikipedia) who gave his life for faith and love
which is about the only connection it has to the concept of “love” and it was not romantic (okay so there were 'love letters' to a friend). Saint Valentine is all about service and sacrifice and we have all forgotten him for a baby in red diapers who may well be an imp or something devious (remember Hot Stuff the little devil cartoon?) Like his obese counterpart in red (we are assuming he is male…), he has become a metaphor for erotic love or even something hedonistic, which is a bit off from the concept of love demonstrated by St. Valentine (a good reading here is C.S.Lewis’ The Four Loves).

Much as we can point at secularization as the culprit to these bastardizations of Christian holidays, the contemporary institutionalized Christianity is not innocent from that substitution. Much of what is being dished out in modern Christianity has to do with being healthy and wealthy cloaked in the mantra of “victorious Christian living” and forgetting that the Gospel is all about being recruited into a Kingdom at war and discipleship that ultimately takes you to a boot camp and not a five-star full service hotel which the modern church has become with its fully air conditioned amenities.

Coming out from a ministry where I engaged and immersed myself in marginalization and suffering, I am saddened at the direction of the opulent contemporary church which may have all denied the message of incarnation brought to us by Baby Jesus and Saint Valentine.

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