We venture to assert, that if there be any day in the year, of which we may be pretty sure that it was not the day on which the Savior was born, it is the 25th of December. Regarding not the day, let us, nevertheless, give thanks to God for the gift of His dear Son.” – Charles Spurgeon –
So how goes the war? You know; the war over Christmas. It sure seems like some people want to pick a fight, at least with the Christian commemoration of the birth of Jesus at Christmas. The hostilities appear to reside most notably with the nonreligious crowd who seek to expunge every “sacred” overtone from the Christmas season. Of course, this has outraged many in the Christian community. Tempers flare and so the battles rage.
For the sake of honesty (if not accuracy), there have been periods in the history of Christendom when “Believers” waged a war on Christmas as well. Some “factions” within the faith denounce participation in this annual celebration to this day.
The Puritans, for instance, couldn’t stand the Christmas celebration. First of all, there was entirely too much joy and revelry associated with it (a big no-no for that crowd). And besides, December 25th wasn’t really Jesus’ birthday anyway. (Some bible scholars place his actual date of birth sometime in our modern month of September while others claim he was born in March).
Christmas celebrations were outlawed in New England from 1659 until sometime in the mid-1680s. Even after the founding of the United States, it wasn’t until the early 1800s that Christmas began to work its way into the national psyche. In 1836, Alabama was actually the first State to officially declare December 25th a public holiday. But alas, those Puritans of New England remained staunchly…well…Puritanical. In defiance of a Christmas holiday, schools and businesses remained open on December 25th well into the mid-1800s. In fact, it wasn’t until 1907, that Oklahoma became the last US state to declare Christmas a legal holiday. In time, nations all over the world came to identify Christmas as a day set aside for celebrating the birth of the Christ child.
Historically, associating the advent of Jesus with December 25th began in the 4th century AD. Christianity essentially co-opted the Roman festivals honoring Saturnus (the harvest god) and Mithras (the ancient god of light). Church leaders of that time succeeded in converting large numbers of heathens into followers of Jesus by promising them that they could continue to celebrate their Pagan holidays as Christians. The concluding day of the festivities, December 25th, was given a new name – the birthday of Jesus.
Much later, in the year 1223, Francis of Assisi is credited with creating the emblematic nativity scene. He was inspired by a trip to the Holy Land and hoped the crÃ¨che would cultivate the worship of Jesus. For many Christians, the nativity scene is still an enduring symbol of the entrance of the architect of all things into the very world which he created. Okay, I confess, mine is displayed every year too.
It seems quite absurd that our modern secular society wants to revel in the sights and sounds of the Christmas holiday season, but despises (in some cases to the point of persecution) the joy of Christians who openly celebrate the birth of their Redeemer at Christmas time. It’s acceptable for shopping malls, public squares, town centers, businesses and homes to be awash in decorations of every possible description, but God forbid if we dare try to include a manger scene in a public display. That’s just way too offensive.
The religion of secular humanism has a choke-hold on Western culture at the moment. Humanists have their own philosophies and doctrines as well as their PC Police to enforce them. Christmas is gradually returning to its pagan roots as our post-modern society rejects the traditional incorporation of Jesus into their now mostly secular “Holiday” observances.
Christmas means a spirit of love, a time when the love of God and the love of our fellow men should prevail over all hatred and bitterness, a time when our thoughts and deeds and the spirit of our lives manifest the presence of God.” – Author Unknown
As a follower of the Liberator Jesus, I understand the anger and frustration that many feel toward the anti-Christian bigots or Christmaphobics. But, it makes no sense for people of faith to turn this beautiful season into a time of hatred & bitterness. Go ahead; boldly declare the reason for the season! Say MERRY CHRISTMAS with impunity and without apology. That is your RIGHT! But, if you’re really going to celebrate the true spirit of the Liberator Jesus at Christmas time, do so with joy and love – especially in the face of blind ignorance.
Our Redeemer was born to bring enlightenment into the darkness of a spiritually deaf, dumb and blinded world. According to Jesus, mankind will find its way out of darkness by following the illumination that He came here to spread. Without that guiding light, humanity is hopelessly lost and groping in the shadows; futilely stumbling through life in search of that elusive road to an everlasting fulfillment. Humanism and this “new age” of enlightenment may offer a plethora of distractive substitutions, but they are counterfeits for the truth. Jesus alone can resurrect a human spirit and revitalize the human soul. He said so,
6 “…I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father [God] except by (through) Me.” – John 14:6 (AMP)
Nothing can stand as His equal. Deny him, hate him, pretend he never existed; you cannot extinguish the penetrating light of his message. The Newer Testament writer John expressed it this way,
4-5“In him (Jesus) appeared life and this life was the light of mankind. The light still shines in the darkness and the darkness has never put it out.” – John 1:4-5 (Phillips)
Remember those shepherds we talked about in the New Testament book of Luke, Chapter 2? After the angelic messenger from another world came to them and announced the birth of Emanuel (which means, God with us), they were terrified! So, what did those sheep herders do? Deny the reality of what they heard and saw? Run away and hide? Let their family and friends convince them that they had too much Manischewitz that night? Absolutely NOT!
Here’s what the New Testament writer Luke says they did,
15“When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about”. – Luke 2:15 (NIV)
Incredibly enough, the shepherds, in spite of being terrified and perhaps even a bit bewildered, searched for the truth! They went to find this “Savior” whose birth was revealed to them in their amazing visitation. Doubtful they understood that this innocent baby, born in obscurity, would one day grow up and traverse their cities and towns exposing them to the truth that would set them free!
Christmas in Bethlehem… The ancient dream: a cold, clear night made brilliant by a glorious star, the smell of incense, shepherds and wise men falling to their knees in adoration of the sweet baby, the incarnation of perfect love.” – Lucinda Franks
Many years ago I read a Christmas reflection by Ron Hutchcraft entitled You Can Have My Room. The story was about a boy named Harold and a Christmas play in the little town of Cornwall. Here’s what Ron shared,
“It was the biggest night of the year in a little town called Cornwall. It was the night of the annual Christmas pageant. It’s an especially big deal for the children in town — they get to try out for the roles in the Christmas story. Everybody wants a part; which leads us to the problem of Harold.
Harold really wanted to be in the play, too, but he was – well, he was kind of a slow and simple kid. The directors were ambivalent – I mean, they knew Harold would be crushed if he didn’t have a part, but they were afraid he might mess up the town’s magic moment. Finally, they decided to cast Harold as the innkeeper – the one who turns Mary and Joseph away the night Jesus is to be born. He had only one line – “I’m sorry, we have no room.” Well, no one could imagine what that one line was going to do to everyone’s Christmas.
The night of the pageant the church was packed, as usual. The Christmas story unfolded according to plan – angels singing, Joseph’s dream, and the trip to Bethlehem. Finally, Joseph and Mary arrived at the door of the Bethlehem inn, looking appropriately tired. Joseph knocked on the inn door, and Harold was there to open the door. Joseph asked his question on cue – “Do you have a room for the night?” Harold froze. After a long pause, Harold mumbled his line, “I’m sorry – we have no room.” And, with a little coaching, he shut the door. The directors heaved a sigh of relief – prematurely.
As Mary and Joseph disappeared into the night, the set suddenly started shaking again – and the door opened. Harold was back! And then, in an unrehearsed moment that folks would not soon forget, Harold went running after the young couple, shouting as loud as he could — “Wait! Don’t go Joseph. Bring Mary back! You can have MY room!” (1)
Well, little Harold turned out to be a very wise young man. He simply would not turn his back (or shut his door) on the soon to be born liberator and King.
What about you? Jesus is no longer with us in human form. He has departed spaceship earth. But before our liberator ascended back into timelessness, he promised to be with us always in Spirit form and to one day physically return again.
The Newer Testament writer John recorded these words spoken to him by Jesus in a vision. They are found in the last section of the bible known as The Book of Revelation,
20“See, I stand knocking at the door. If anyone listens to my voice and opens the door, I will go into his house…” Revelation 3:20 (Phillips)
Jesus paid a visit to this tiny spec of a world in the vastness of the universe that he created to seek and to rescue a lost and stranded people. He’d like to salvage you. Will you be like Herald and offer him your room? His Spirit wants to move into your house… your spiritual house.
(Knock, knock.) Do you hear what I hear? (Knock, knock.) He’s waiting. Answer the door.
Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher and a rabbid Coastal Junkie ®
For additional information write to: Coastal Life Ministries, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656