Have you heard of a “graffiti artist” named “Banksy”? I hadn’t. It turns out I’ve been missing a significant cultural phenomenon of our day.
Banksy is a pseudonymous British-based artist, sculptor, film director and painter. While one of his movies was named Best Documentary Film of 2010, he is best known for his paintings on walls, trucks, and nearly any other public space—works known as “graffiti art.” He has painted on walls all over London, and in American cities such as New Orleans and New York City.
His art usually takes the form of political commentary or satire. For instance, in 2009 he painted a mural with the words “I don’t believe in global warming” submerging in water. In 2005 he painted an image on Israel’s West Bank security barrier depicting a child digging a hole through the wall.
Now he is doing a one-month show on the streets of New York City. While his art has sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars around the world, he set up a one-day exhibition in Central Park where his original works were sold for $60 each. Most people passed by the booth without a second glance. The few who bought works seemed to have no idea their true value. One woman negotiated the price down by 50 percent; a man said he needed “something for his walls.”
I sense a parable here.
Kmart aired its first Christmas ad this year on September 9. I remember when retailers didn’t start Christmas advertising until after Thanksgiving. Then it was Halloween. Now it’s the start of school. Soon it will be New Year’s Day. With our focus on gifts and glitter, toys and trees and tinsel, will we walk past the true reason for the season?
If it’s not too soon to start preparing for the holidays, it’s not too soon to start preparing for holy days. As our culture hurries past the manger on its way to the mall, will you step out of the crowd to make time for the Child? Will you respond to the call of Christmas ads or Christmas angels? Will you join the shoppers or the shepherds?
Our ministry wants to help. My wife, Janet, has written an Advent devotional guide again this year. “Looking Forward to Christmas” shows us how God prepared for the birth of his Son centuries before that holy day arrived. Each day you’ll focus on a different prophecy, finding its fulfillment in that Bethlehem miracle and its application in our hearts today. Sunday is the last day to order your printed copies online; a free PDF download will be available through Christmas.
Let’s decide that the holidays will be holy days for us and those we love. The One who came to Bethlehem now makes his Bethlehem in every heart that welcomes him home. Is there room in your inn for him today?