Are you ready for the Christmas holidays? Did you begin before or after Thanksgiving? Again this year we saw the Black Friday sales begin on Thursday.

People stood in line and rushed to get the goodies they wanted at a bargain price. They rushed in and claimed as much as they could. My niece fought the crowd and had to sit on an item to stake her claim while waiting for a cart to haul it to the checkout. Wow! That made me wonder. Maybe this year, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, could the same thing happen at church?

Could we wake up early on Sunday morning and have a crowd waiting at the door to get in even before the doors were unlocked? No, sorry. Didn’t happen! We had a good crowd, but folks weren’t pushing and shoving or spraying mace at each other to get a place in the front row.

A few years ago, President Obama claimed that America is not a Christian nation. Many people were offended and wrote in opposition. The reality is that both are right. The President’s claim is that we live in a diverse society of various beliefs and there is no “official” religion of the nation. Opponents said that the country was founded upon Christian principles and continues to be based on that foundation. Both are true.

As for me, I look at it from a statistical point of view. There was a time when Monday mornings brought a conversation about what happened at church yesterday. There was almost a type of peer pressure exerted that made people belong to a local church and attend.

Society emphasized being a churchgoer and in fact, as many politicians knew, it was good public relations to have that on their resume. But the truth is, the United States as a whole doesn’t go to church anymore. The majority of people have become content to skip out on church services for the most part.

While studies show that most people still claim to believe in God, they don’t actively worship God. It is now a choice, not an expectation. Recent studies show over 70 percent of our population doesn’t attend services on a regular basis. Even more alarming is that goes up to over 90 percent in the younger age groups.

So, the question is, what do most people in the United States worship? The answer is clear, themselves. Things are still the same as they were in Bible days. People tended to find something other than God to worship. Moses found the people worshipping gold in the form of a calf. Elijah found people worshipping sex. The Baal temples were where orgies were often practiced. Jesus found people worshipping their own holiness and knowledge (and wealth too).

Today, consumerism and debt (the dollar and all it can buy) lead the way for your attention and loyalty. Seems that Satan (Satan is a Hebrew word meaning the Opposer or the Other) is still busy finding other things to take God’s place in people’s lives. Honestly, things haven’t changed that much. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

So, get ready. It’s that time of year again. God reminds us again this year that Christmas is not about the stuff. Christmas is about a God who loves us enough to give us a gift. A God who gives us grace through a child (fully human/fully God). A God who reaches out to us and calls us to join Him in eternity. That is the greatest gift of all. One we cannot repay nor should anyone try. Just re-adjust your priorities and place God first in all things. No more phony-baloney Christmas Christianity. Get real and get your priorities straight. Trust God, rely on God, talk to God, listen to God, and surrender your heart to God and you will find that Christmas comes every day of every year.