Anchor Sunday School Class
It was Christmas Eve, time for me to do my “Christmas shopping.” Off to Lenox Square I go, hoping most of the shoving shoppers are through with their materialistic madness, and now I can succumb to the madness with a modicum of peace. As I walked into a jewelry store to purchase a writing pen for Myra,(what else does one get in a jewelry store?) I was shocked and delighted to see John, an old seminary class mate, whom I had not seen in years. Although I saw only his back, and that of Pat’s, his lovely wife, I knew this was John, my old friend. Walking up behind John, I did what we frequently would do at the seminary, reached around him, grabbed the “relaxed muscle” that had obviously been added to his anatomy, pinched him (in love of course) and said the obvious: “John, you are getting as fat as a pig!” He turned around. It was not John. She turned around. It was not Pat. What do you do? First of all, you let loose. Then pray that the fire alarm would go off so I could run with and get lost in the crowd. However, as I was standing in the midst of Christmas decorations, Christmas “music” swirling over me, the flummoxed “John” who was not John, turned to his near panicking wife and murmured, “He is confused.” The understatement of the year!!
Of course ministerial decorum, not to mention dignity, were vaporized. Something needed to be salvaged from this demeaning kerfuffle. Confused? Surrounded by Christmas! What an appropriate demonstration of where our society is in relation to “celebrating” this season. CONFUSED! When I hear lovely clerks dutifully intone “Happy Holidays,” knowing that to wish me a “Merry Christmas” would violate the inviolable political correctness that has smothered the true meaning of this season, and when a fat man with a bunch of reindeer is the protagonist in this seasonal narrative, nudging out the babe in Bethlehem’s cow stall, when trinkets, toys, parties, and “Season’s Greetings” add to the cacophony invading the “season,” the insightful observation of John who was not John is categorically appropriate: CONFUSED!.
One example: “Happy Holidays.” A holiday must have a reason for existence, and there should be some history sustaining the “holidays (plural).” I am waiting for someone to answer the simple but significant question: “what is the reason for these “holidays” you wish to be “happy,” and what is the history of these “holidays,” a history that would sustain the legitimacy of HAPPY HOLIDAYS greetings? I suspect that consumerism, materialism, and financial gains are somewhere in the answer.
So, what do we who have made the stupendous statement that Christmas is, or should be, a celebration of God’s coming to us in the flesh, INCARNATION (John 1:14), in the person of JESUS OF NAZARETH, the Messiah of God, the fulfillment of the promise of the OLD COVENANT, have to say to our confused culture? How do we who have declared our faith in Jesus as Lord, respond to the confusion that has defined this season? Certainly we as followers of Jesus the Messiah must make dead certain we are not enablers of the confusion. Our focus must be upon what factually defines Christmas as a celebration worthy of our time and resources. There are several non-negotiables that must never be diluted, but assiduously declared and proclaimed as truth.
1. The Christians faith is a REVELATION. John 1:18 answers the question “why was Jesus the Messiah sent into the world?” Answer, He is God’s REVELATION of the heart of God, how God feels about us, what the ALMIGHTY has done for us. Jesus the Messiah reveals Who God is, His attributes of love, grace, and compassion. We know the answers to these questions because God in Christ has come to MAKE HIMSELF KNOWN. Christmas must begin with the declaration and joyful celebration of a REVELATION.
2. FULFILLMENT of Old Testament prophecies of the coming Messiah! Matthew 1:22; 2:5, 17, 23; 3:3, are a few of the verses attesting that the prophet’s predictions are now fulfilled in the birth of Jesus. Christmas is a celebration of that fulfillment.
3. SALVATION. The Song of Mary in Luke 1:46-56 proclaims that the Messiah has come to “save His people from their sins.” Without the reality of Redemption from bondage, Reconciliation from estrangement, Justification from guilt, and Forgiveness from having “gone astray,” there is zero meaning to Christmas other than some insipid, vapid, and elegiac “Happy Holidays.”
4. INCARNATION. John 1:1-18. The most amazing fact that you and I will ever celebrate is GOD HAS COME TO US, (Hebrews 2:14-18; 4:14-16) and has done for us what we could never do for ourselves: make Himself known by being among us, one of us, and demonstrating He is for us. (Romans 8:31-39). God in the flesh!!!! Here we have the heart of Christmas, the essence of what this season is truly all about.
I do hope that this wonder-filled time of the year will be time of joy, love, and peace for you and your family. As you gather around the mesmerizing Christmas tree and marvel at the glistening lights, the tantalizingly wrapped presents, absorbing the enchanting Christmas music, that the true meaning of this celebration will define you and yours, give meaning and purpose to the day, that the truth, He was sent to redeem us to God, will make it a truly MERRY CHRISTMAS.