Something to think about

Imagine what our Christmas celebration might look like to an outsider. This fictional letter is to help us see and treasure the real Christmas.

Joseph B. Johnson

Dear Stephanus,

I can’t wait to be home! There are so many strange and startling things to share about this country called America. Take their highest holy day, for example. It happens as the winter grows dark and the weather turns colder. The special day is named Black Friday, and it begins a four-day festival ending on Cyber Monday.

As far as I can tell the festival really starts on a day called Thanksgiving and ends with an oddly named Christmas day. This is perhaps the most bizarre festival I’ve seen! On Thanksgiving, or Black Friday Eve, from what I can see, they binge eat. I think it is because the next day many of them get up before the light and stand in lines in front of stores for hours. Once inside these sanctuaries, the worshipers stand in still other lines! There is great frustration on their faces, and sometimes they erupt in anger and violence. The poor hapless priests in the stores look even more miserable.

Not all go to these places of worship. Some sit in front of a computer and offer themselves to a god named Amazon. I believe Cyber Monday is the day particularly dedicated to that god. They are, of course, polytheists.
Along with Amazon there is Apple, Walmart, Best Buy, Microsoft, Dell, Ford. Really there are more gods than even among the Hindus!

My brother, on this Black Friday they give to their gods over 70 billion of their dollars. That is a 7 with 10 zeros after it. It is enough to build a house for everyone in our small country! And that is but one day.

They tell me they are preparing for a day named in honor of a man called Christ. It seems he comes at Christmas, and you see him everywhere at this time of year. He wears bright red, is very fat, and carries a bag of items around. I think he is fat to symbolize the beginning feast of the festival on Black Friday Eve. He carries a bag to hold all that he has bought at the festival. And I think he wears red because there is a madness in his heart and, indeed, in the people until his day when he leaves them and their sanity returns.

The festival lasts a month and ends on Christmas. I asked if there were any other holy day that was celebrated. One old man told me of a time when they celebrated a very ancient holy day, where all the sanctuary stores were closed and no one spent money—it was called Good Friday. He recalled no more but that it was followed by a festival with eggs and rabbits. I don’t know either.

Give my love to your wonderful wife and daughters. I long to see you and the quiet peace of life in our country. Seriously, I can’t stay much longer in this land. The other day I saw a priest holding a sign that said “50% off, hurry in soon” and I felt the tug to join all the others rushing into the temple. For a moment, I too wanted to give my heart to their gods! Pray for me, my brother!

Soon to be home,

Joseph Johnson is pastor at Amazing Grace, Portland, Oregon.

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich ” (2 Corinthians 8:9).
Have a truly blessed and Merry Christmas as you celebrate forgiveness and our true riches in Jesus!


Do you have a manuscript, idea, or story from your own life you’d like to share for use in Forward in Christ or on Use our online form to share it to our editorial office for consideration.


Get inspirational stories, spiritual help, and synod news from  Forward in Christ every month. Print and digital subscriptions are available from Northwestern Publishing House.


Author: Joseph B. Johnson
Volume 104, Number 12
Issue: December 2017

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2021
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

Print Friendly, PDF & Email