Sacred in the Midst of Secular

I just returned from New York City where I led a group of women doing mission work and sightseeing. It was an incredible trip with a lot of memories made and friendships formed. One of the highlights each year for me is the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. The show doesn’t change much from year to year, and each time it ends with a reading of the Christmas story from Luke and a live nativity scene formed on stage.

Sheep, donkeys and camels along with beautiful scenery and costumes are all enhanced with the full orchestra and singers proclaiming “Glory to the newborn King!” I get goosebumps every time.

Up to this point in the show, we had been watching dancing Santas, toy soldiers, teddy bears and reindeers. We’d seen Santa fly through New York in 3D and Rockettes kicking in sync. I remarked to Rev. Marsh Drege, our host on the trip, that I was surprised to see such a sacred portrayal of Christmas in the midst of such a secular show.

He pointed out to me that Rockefeller made the nativity scene of the Christmas Spectacular contractual. It had to be there. He told me, “Rockefeller said you can throw in all the Santas and reindeer you want, but you always have to end the show with a reading from the Bible and the nativity scene.”

Good for you, Rockefeller. He must have been aware of our tendency to lean toward the secular at Christmastime and leave the sacred in the margins. I think that is always a danger for us, to get so caught up in the busyness of the season we forget why we celebrate it.

New York City is a city full of contrasts. Right next to Saks Fifth Avenue is the beautiful St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Homeless people live on the streets below multi-million dollar apartments. And the nativity story and scene celebrating the birth of a King is in the midst of dancing Rockettes. That’s an accurate portrayal of the world I suppose. We are called to live in the world, but not be conformed by it (Romans 12:2).

Being Human connection: Merry Christmas my friends. I hope you are treasuring the sacred in the midst of the secular this Advent season.

P.S. We were told during our tour of Radio City Music Hall that one of the camels in the show was the camel used in the “hump day” commercial. There were three camels on stage and I couldn’t pick out which one it was, but I guess I couldn’t have gotten his autograph anyway.