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Saturday, December 03, 2005

It's Festivus for the Rest-of-Us

The world is trying to change Christmas into something else, something it’s not. The world says that Christmas is a time for decorations and large meals, a time for family and children, a time for presents and the Charlie Brown Christmas special on TV. And while all those things are nice, the only one that has anything to do with Christmas is the Charlie Brown show. The world has done such a good job of hijacking Christmas that most Christians haven’t even noticed. Opening presents has become more important than coming to church. Let Christmas be about Christ or forget about it altogether.

The managers at Wal-Mart now tell their employees not to wish anyone a “Merry Christmas” in case it might offend someone. What offends me is when non-Christians celebrate Christmas, to tell the truth. I don’t celebrate Yom Kippur. Do you know why? Because I am not a Jew. I don’t celebrate Ramadan because I am not a Muslim. I don’t celebrate the Summer Solstice because I am not a witch. Why should anyone celebrate the birth of Jesus who does not recognize Him as the Son of God - which He Himself claimed to be - who came to redeem sinners?

Clearly, we live in a world that in some ways is hostile to Christianity. We have it pretty easy in America. No one is going to put you into jail or shoot you in the back of the head because you brought your children to Sunday School. But what is happening here in America is almost worse than in China or the Sudan. Here Christianity is permitted, but it is being slowly drained of all its meaning.

If the world wants to have their holiday with the decorations and gifts and office parties, then let it do so, but I wish they’d call it something else. A number of years ago, there was a famous episode of Seinfeld, a popular television sitcom in the 1990s. And the joke in this one particular episode was that the characters wanted to invent their own December holiday and they called it Festivus. Now that actually makes sense to me. A Christmas without Jesus Christ is not Christmas. Call it something else because it is something else.

We in the church can still have our presents and decorations but we will gather to worship the Christ child. And that’s because we know the true identity of that little stranger wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.

He is no mere prophet, no new-fangled Buddha offering nothing more than a set of wise teachings. He is, in reality, the incarnation of the one true God. God, in Christ, has come to dwell with man. And to bring real light into the world, a light that can never be snuffed away.


[Side note: Since I referenced the Charlie Brown Christmas Special above, I want to direct you to Gene Veith's blog here, where he gives an excellent appraisal of the annual Christmas television specials.

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5 comments:

Preachrboy said...

I'm offended by the person offended at a simple "Merry Christmas".

I'm also offended when a person who would otherwise say it doesn't for fear of giving offense.

NOW what, Wal-mart?

Carl said...

Scott,
Do I have your permission to print this for our bulletins, giving you the credit, of course!

Thanx,
Carl

paul, in south park said...

pastor...as usual, an excellent commentary.

i work as a motivational speaker and have other folks that i work with express concern over what would be "proper" to say to the groups to which they speak.

i've often told them to say what they KNOW is proper and not be afraid to witness for Christ...

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

Carl,
Sure, feel free.

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