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?Remember back in COVID when a bunch of celebrities recorded themselves singing “Imagine” by Jon Lennon as a way to… well no one is really sure, exactly. Encourage everyone, I guess?
Well “Do They Know it’s Christmas” was the OG terrible celebrity idea. It was written in just a few days in 1984 by a couple of songwriters in the UK as a way to raise money for a famine that had struck Ethiopia. They roped in a bunch of musical celebrities like Bono and David Bowie to perform the song and… it was a hit.
It raised millions of dollars for charitable aid. It’s been remade at least twice for other global crises (like the Ebola outbreak in 2014).
But you know who doesn’t love the song? A lot of Africans.
Because yeah… they know it’s Christmas. In fact, Ethiopia specifically knew it was Christmas way before anyone in the UK did – Ethiopia is the center of one of the most ancient forms of Christianity – Ethiopian Orthodoxy, which was founded by the eunuch baptized by the apostle Philip in the book of Acts.
And even before that, Ethiopia was a center for God’s people, going all the way back to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba (Sheba being modern day Ethiopia). In fact, the Ethiopian Orthodox church claims to be in possession of the Ark of the Covenant, which they received from Jerusalem for safe-keeping right before the Babylonians destroyed the city in the Exile.
So all that to say, Yeah… Ethiopians know it’s Christmas.
This song points to how the sentimentality of Christmas can encourage the worst impulses in us – our ethnocentrism and self-centeredness. And that same impulse that moves us to charity in this season can turn into an ugly, colonialist paternalism.
We know that’s the exact opposite of what the Christmas story means.

It’s good to reject the sentimentality of songs like “Do They Know it’s Christmas?” in favor of the news that’s truly good not just for us, but for the whole world.

Join us Sunday as we celebrate a God who is for the whole world, not just an elite few!

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