An example of the latter would be the Toys R Us commercial which depicts a family lying in sleeping bags looking up at the night sky. One of the parents comments on how the vastness of the starry sky makes us think of our insignificance and the meaning of it all. During this special moment, the camera pans over to Geoffrey the Giraffe, the Toys R Us mascot, who is lying in his own sleeping bag looking up at the stars. He remarks that the stars remind him of the blue star specials at Toys R Us. Then he breaks out singing, “Kumbaya.” The tune is the same one we know, but the lyrics have been changed to “Someone’s playing with toys, Kumbaya.” Yes, the commercial is sort of cute, but it is also terribly profane.
It is in the same vane as other commercials that utilize the Hallelujah chorus from Handel’s Messiah. Music meant to proclaim, “The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ...and He shall reign for ever and ever,” is now used to sell paper towels and such.
This struggle over the meaning of the holiday is nothing new. The genius of the church has been shown through the centuries by its ability to baptize pagan holidays and symbols and use them to proclaim the Christian message. (Ever wonder why we celebrate Christmas on December 25?) It was the church’s way of heeding Isaiah’s command: “O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!”
So once again this season, let us invite our friends and neighbors to lift their eyes heavenward and contemplate the meaning of it all. Let’s be sure that their attention is not so stuck on the blue star specials at Toys R Us that they miss the star of Bethlehem.
©2003 C. David Hess