Skip to comments.Keeping Christmas Christian
Posted on 12/19/2005 6:51:26 PM PST by sionnsar
The mayor of Boston recasts its Christmas tree as a Holiday tree. The mayor of Montgomery, Alabama insists on calling the annual Christmas parade a Holiday parade. Rev. Jerry Falwell urges Christians to boycott Target stores because of the chains failure to use the word, Christmas, in its advertising and its prohibition of Salvation Army bellringers at its front doors. Faithful Christians, seeing yet another sign of the demise of faith and piety in our society, look for someone to blame, and call for a round-up of the usual suspects: the ACLU, People for the American Way, and liberal Democrats.
But the redaction of the word, Christmas, from public pronouncements about the holiday is also a predictable and logical step down a well-worn path that professing Christians in the West have trodden along with everyone else. How did Christmas come to be such a secular holiday? My brothers and sisters in Christ, I offer a simple answer. We have met the enemy, and he is us.
So you want to keep Christmas a Christian holiday? Consider this: The span of time between Thanksgiving Day and December 25 should not be, for Christians, Christmas season. For most of that time Christians are called to observe Advent, hardly a celebratory period. It is instead a time much like Lent, calling for extra prayer, and repentance, and reflection on the second coming of Christ, which will be a time of judgment. Here, for example, is a reading from this weeks daily lectionary, one quite appropriate to the season:
For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of man. Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together. Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken; then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; and he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Matthew 24: 27-31 (RSV).
Want Christmas to be a Christian holiday? Remember then that the Christian season of Christmas does not end on December 25. It begins on December 25, and extends for 11 more days, until January 6, the Day of Epiphany. How many professing Christians take down their Christmas decorations before New Years Day? (I have even heard it said that it is bad luck to keep Christmas decorations up after the New Year!) What happens to all of our Christmas pins and Christmas sweaters and Christmas ties in those days after December 25 when it is still Christmas?
What does it matter if city governments, or chain stores, or ACLU lawyers attack the word Christmas if we are not ourselves scrupulous about observing Christmas in a truly Christian way? For Christians to reclaim Christmas, then we must be clear and rigorous about a few things. Christmas, for Christians, should not be about Santa Claus, or presents, or egg nog, or office parties, or twinkling lights in the front yard. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with any of those things, or that we should not have them in our lives. I am simply saying that they are completely beside the point of Christmas. Christmas is about God coming to earth in vulnerable human form. It is about a miraculous virgin birth. It is about Gods own angels proclaiming, Peace on Earth, Good Will to All Men. It is about the greatest gift that God ever gave to mankind, the greatest gift that any of us could possibly receive.
Do we Christians want to reclaim Christmas as something that is truly Christian? Then, as in all things, step one is to take the log out of our own eyes before we set about criticizing others. Here are ten things professing Christians can do in their own lives to restore the religious nature of Christmas. I invite additional suggestions from all of you.
1. Observe Advent. Cut down on the partying. Pray. Fast. Support a Christian charity with the money you save by fasting. Ask God to grant you a repentant heart.
2. Read extra Scriptures. It is a good time to read the prophets (you know, those Old Testament books after Psalms and Proverbs), as well as Revelation.
3. Prepare your heart for the return of Christ, so that you will not be found sleeping when He comes again. If the Master were to return at midnight tonight to judge the earth, how would you account to Him for your own life?
4. Send Christmas cards with religious themes, ones that actually say, Merry Christmas, and have quotations from Scripture or from religious Christmas carols. Write personal notes to the recipients of those cards.
5. Give at least some home-made gifts. Open your heart before you open your wallet.
6. Volunteer to ring a bell for the Salvation Army, or to deliver meals on wheels, or to personally help out in Gulf Coast relief work. Visit the sick or those in prison.
7. Share the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ with at least one non-Christian relative, friend, or acquaintance.
8. Wear your Christmas garb to work, to church, and when out in public between December 26 and January 5. Hope and pray that someone will ask you about it, which will present a great opportunity for evangelizing.
9. Make a list of those you hold in unforgiveness. Forgive them.
10. Did I mention prayer?
Blessings and Merry Christmas to all.
Rick Harris, OP
This is a wonderful reminder, I wonder how many "non-traditional" Christians even realize what Advent is anymore.
The concept of Advent seems lost on most of the "real" protestants (Calvinists, Baptists, etc.)in my neck of the woods. When I explain it, it seems that I receive the same looks that I would if I were explaining the finer points of eskimo cuisine.
The same is true here.
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