This is the opening illustration from my sermon yesterday. People thought it was amusing:
Just a few days after Halloween, one of our neighbors here in town began stringing Christmas lights on his house. I suppose it was no real surprise, because this particular house put up Halloween decorations just shortly after Labor Day. I noticed because its one of the houses I walk past on one of the routes I take when I am out walking my dog, Max.
By November 12th or so, the house and yard were illuminated every night by what seemed to be several strands of Christmas lights. The week before last, candy canes along his sidewalk had appeared. Then a three foot inflatable snowman made an appearance, but just for a few days, and then curiously disappeared. I guess Frosty sprung a leak.
Then on the Monday before Thanksgiving, a manger scene had appeared. You know the version—a good 12-lb., blond hair, blue-eyed baby Jesus, beautifully dressed and glowing in the perfectly manicured hay. I thought it was a bit too early, too commercial, and too plastic for my taste, but at least there was some semblance of religious sentiment there, which is more than most Christmas decorations these days.
This was by no means the only manger scene that I have seen out in people's yards already. This one in particular caught my attention, however, It had a few original kickers I had never witnessed before in a manger scene. Surrounding the Plastic Bambino is what I can only describe as an all-American cast. Mary and Joseph are there in clothing that appeared to be straight from the LL Bean catalog. The Wise Men were there, also clad in ornate robes, the likes of which the designers Gucci or Armani would have drooled over. And of course the slightly disproportionate, almost larger than life, kneeling Santa was there, glowing as if he was radioactive.
And there, above the stable of the manger scene was not an angel nor a star of Bethlehem nor even a chubby Valentine's day cherub, but sat perched with wings out spread in all its regal splendor sits a red, white, and blue American eagle.
That house is not on my regular walk, so I only go by it occasionally. But I always have to stop and stare because it strikes me as so bizarre. I certainly give it points for originality, but I never quite know what to make of the community All-American Manger Scene.
I give this illustration not to point fingers. Most Christmas decorations, no matter how tasteful, are on some level out of the ordinary and so therefore always just a bit tacky if you really think about it. Some are just more tacky than others. If we were to ever put up something as gaudy as multi-colored blinking strands of lights in, say, April, people would look at us funny.
But because it's the holiday season, we don't bat an eye.