Wednesday, December 24, 2014

CHRISTMAS: Whose Holiday Is This, Anyway?

When I was a boy, our little church put on a Christmas play. It seemed that half the congregation was in it. The old wood-frame church house had wooden floors and a wooden stage. They strung a wire from one side to the other, and hung white sheets on large safety pins for curtains. Somebody built a long box with a series of light sockets to use as footlights. The auditorium was darkened. We had a manger scene with a homemade wooden manger stuffed with hay. One of the married couples played Joseph and Mary, and one of the babies in the church played baby Jesus. Three guys played the wise men from the East, and several kids dressed as the angel choir. One of the men narrated the Bible story, and everybody sang all the old traditional Christmas carols. Silent Night. Away in a Manger. O Come All Ye Faithful. We Three Kings. Joy to the World. It was surreal. I felt as though I was re-living the actual event. In those days, Christmas was still about Jesus. At the end of the service, everyone received a large bag of fresh fruit and nuts: apples, oranges, Brazil nuts, filberts, pecans. Those were the days.

But there were new songs coming on the scene. Frosty the Snowman. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. White Christmas. Silver Bells. Santa Claus is coming to town. In my 63 years, I have watched the Christmas season lose virtually every vestige of sanctity and holiness. The merchandisers and entertainment industry utterly hijacked the entire holiday.

This year, the name of Jesus has almost completely vanished from the so-called Christmas holidays. Santa Claus has center stage. Instead of angel choirs, we have hordes of snowmen. Instead of cattle lowing, we have reindeer flying. No talk about Bethlehem; just the North Pole. No wise men; just elves. Etc. Etc.

I know all about Christmas's pagan roots. So don't start posting a thousand PAGAN CHRISTMAS posts. I will delete them - every last one of them. I'm just here to say that I think Jesus deserves better. The Christian community is as guilty as anybody. So-called Christianity is just as secular today as if Jesus Christ never lived. Jesus is not genuinely worshipped in very many places anymore. He is patronized. In painful reality, this generation does not know Jesus Christ. He is a brand name like Gap, or Old Navy, or some other merchandizing icon.

You can call me old-fashioned. Call me out-dated. Call me a dinosaur. Call me anything you like. But I still believe that Jesus Christ was God in flesh. I believe that He was born of a virgin. I believe that He is the Invisible Creator incarnate in a human body. I believe He came to save mankind from their inherently wicked ways, and show the path to Eternal Life. I believe that He died in agony for our sins, and that He rose from the dead after three days to prove to us that He was more than just a man.
So pardon me if I utterly detest Santa Claus. Bear with me if I am singularly unimpressed with flying reindeer. Please. Just allow me to make one poor man's feeble attempt to remind you - and anyone who will hear me,

"And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; TO HIM BE GLORY AND DOMINION FOR EVER AND EVER. Amen. Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen," Revelation 1:5-7.

I don't care if Jesus was born in December, or September or April. It doesn't matter to me. I'm just glad He came. And I am genuinely expecting Him to come again very soon.