As you’re gearing up for Christmas we’ve got a few highlights from the past week you might enjoy. As well as something else:
This is from an annual Christmas light display on Chicago Street in Blue Springs, Mo., that spans three miles and has been going on for 30 years. One stretch tells the story of Jesus’ life from birth to death—yes, flogging included. The animated flogging dates back to at least 2004 and has made the rounds online multiple times, though we discovered it this time around thanks to Mark Oestreicher and his collection of the 50 weirdest nativities.
The light display itself has been a local fixture for 30 years, and is consistently mentioned in lists of holiday light displays. It was started by electrician Steve Steiner who opted to retire last year and this year donated the display to nearby Buckner, Mo., which is continuing the free display in Heisler-Burns Park with a percentage of donations going to local charities who are helping with the display, including four churches. No word on if the city is keeping the flogging Jesus display.
You can even take a video tour of the light display from back in 2007, though when you get to the street with Jesus the music turns death metal and it’s a little disturbing. A shaky video of this year’s display isn’t quite as disturbing, though it’s definitely more patriotic.
So what do you think? A tacky misstep in an otherwise fun tradition? Innocent display that’s taken out of context and ridiculed online? An overdone consumer waste that tries too hard to shoehorn the entire gospel into a drive-by display? Or a good step at taking back Christmas that’s marred by too many Santa’s and junk that distracts from Jesus? Or now that the city is involved, an ACLU lawsuit waiting to happen?
So many ways to consider this one.
Friday Round Up
Let’s move on to a round up of this week’s links:
- Santa Claus the Comm Hero: We’ve been talking a lot about inspiring heroes lately, what with our new ebook, and this week we talked about the actions of one man that inspired the modern Christmas tradition: St. Nicholas.
- ‘Happy Holidays’ is Not Persecution: Rachel Held Evans offers a holiday flowchart that’s worth a laugh.
- Pope Francis & the Homeless: We can’t seem to make it a week without mentioning Pope Francis. This time it seems he’s sneaking out of the Vatican to help the homeless. Maybe. The Vatican denies it, but Francis wouldn’t be the first. Just another reminder that it’s sad how awesome Pope Francis is.
- Save on Ebooks: If you’re looking for Christmas gift ideas we’ve bundled our three ebooks—Outspoken, Dangerous and Church Communication Heroes—into a single collection for $7.99 (save $3). If you want to hook up your entire team, we’ve got a multi-copy pack for $49.99—the savings kick in for teams of 7 or more.
- Instagram Video: Steve Fogg shares 8 creative ways to use Instragram video for your church. Hillsong also shares how to edit videos for Instragram. Apparently the Aussies have Instragram video covered.
- Reality TV: Word is the National Geographic Channel has already pulled the plug on the Church Rescue reality show before we could even say much about it. Final episodes are airing Dec. 23 for the three people who actually get that channel. But there’s more reality TV news for the church: Megapastor Ed Young is pitching his own reality show, modeling it as a Christian version of the Kardashians.
- Money & Media: Speaking of megapastors, we talked about the media frenzy around Steven Furtick’s megahouse and how churches should handle media and money.
- Pet Peeve: On the ChurchMag podcast Jon Acuff talks about his church communication pet peeve: Not talking people’s language.
- Burn Out: For more from Jon Acuff, check out 11 signs you’re burning out your staff. That’s a big one. If you’re struggling to find the wonder of the work we do, you need a new day.
- No More Pageant: If you’re still trying to wash away the animated flogging, how about last year’s story of a church that cancelled its Christmas pageant to do something more.
- New U2: Finally, let’s end with a palette cleanser. Yesterday’s death of Nelson Mandela makes this all the more timely and poignant. U2 has released a new single, “Ordinary Love,” for the soundtrack to the new Mandela movie. They created this lyric video with illustrator Oliver Jeffers (check out his children’s book Lost and Found) that’s full of visual inspiration:
- Need help with Christmas? The church marketing Christmas elves are ready to help. Check out even more church Christmas ideas for help with planning, promotion and inspiration.