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Tag Archives: Christmas
Ok, it’s four days after Christmas and you probably don’t want to hear any more about it. The decorations are coming down and the bills are coming in. The returns have been returned. We’ll have one last hurrah on New Year’s Eve and then life will go back to whatever passes for normal. Yes, I’m one of those much-maligned Christmas critics, but I have a question to which I think Christians ought to have an answer. Did anyone hear the Gospel?
We stridently proclaim Jesus as the reason for the season, but do any of those lambasted for their Christmas sacrilege ever see Jesus in our actions? We prefer nativity scenes to snowmen and Santa, but the baby Jesus never steps beyond the manger. The notional Christian and most others can accept baby Jesus. He does not intimidate. The cute little baby does not become the man, the God who exposes our sin and yet was willing to die for us. Without His death and resurrection, the birth is just a pretty story. We sing songs of a savior, but never mention what it is we are being saved from. We speak of a newborn king, but do not follow to the conclusion that a king is to be obeyed. When this time comes around again next year, what if instead of bickering over time, place, and tradition we resolve to tell the whole story of Jesus? Whatever you believe about its origins, there is no more opportune time to share the real message.
Today: Atheists and Christmas, Christian persecution in Iraq
According to an acquaintance of mine, it was actually Christians who started the practice of abbreviating Christmas with the cross-like X, but that’s not the main point. While atheists are busy denying the foundation for what many of them still consider to be “good,” recent history provides us with numerous examples of what happens when we take God out of a society or replace Him with a false god.
‘Tis the season for the atheist/humanist crowd to make fools of themselves. As millions of Americans celebrate Christmas, the American Humanist Association is in the midst of their annual membership drive punctuated by smart-aleck billboards and city bus placards that mock the existence of moral authority and belittle faith in Christ.
Every time I read about this I question what we did there. I’ve been an adamant supporter of our action in Iraq since the beginning, but what have we left in place of Hussein? Is it really better?
They saw their brethren murdered during Mass and then were bombed in their homes as they mourned. Al-Qaida vowed to hunt them down. Now the Christian community of Iraq, almost as old as the religion itself, is sensing a clear message: It is time to leave.
Today: Perspective on profiling, the Grinch List
Actually, what is discriminatory is to not profile Muslims. Why? Well, consider that group-specific profiling is nothing unusual; for instance, law enforcement looks more suspiciously upon men and young people because those groups commit an inordinate amount of crime. Yet do we hear complaints of “sex profiling” or “age profiling”? Of course not, as we know that such practices are just common sense. But if this standard can be applied to men and youth, it’s only fair and just to apply the exact same standard to all other groups that commit an inordinate amount of a given crime. And when we refuse to do so — when we say that certain groups must receive a special dispensation from life’s realities because they enjoy privileged status — that is where the real discrimination lies. That is what’s unfair. That is a travesty of justice.
Several thoughts come to mind about the following article. (1) We live in a fallen world and should expect that most will not choose the truth. (2) Our time would be better spent sharing the Gospel than fighting these kinds of battles, because when people turn to Jesus this problem goes away. (3) If we celebrated Jesus’ birthday at a more accurate time of year instead of in sync with pagan festivals the atheist quoted in this article would have no argument. As it stands he’s essentially correct. (4) I will still prefer establishments who are willing to acknowledge the traditional purpose of the season in our culture.
A Dallas Church has launched a Web site that alerts holiday shoppers to area stores and businesses that refuse to use the phrase “Merry Christmas” this holiday season. The First Baptist Church of Dallas launched GrinchAlert.com as a protest against retailers using what it views as politically correct, generic holiday language and displays during the Christmas season.
All I want for Christmas is a bucket to upchuck it.
Saw it coming; couldn’t duck it.
Why must I be happy to see this glee of red and green fallacy?
Lend me your ear; give me a beer; shed a tear
for love lost, permafrost, forgotten death on a cross.
To be a friend you have to spend; do defend your greed to the end
a poison blend of piety and pretend.
This is peace on Earth? Forgotten birth; plastic mirth; the worthless given worth?
Gifts for all are at the mall but please don’t call if you should fall from favor.
We believe and we receive and guard our saccharine flavor.
Can’t buy me love but I can try. Don’t cry.
Just take it back. Here’s the sack. I lost track of what you lack.
Hapless hack just talking’ smack; please leave me out of this.
Compassion in fashion; no reason; just the season
Stroke the ego. Where do we go when the big day comes and passes?
It was molasses now quick silver and the bills are due. Merry Christmas to you too.
Since a few of my friends and family know what we’ve been up to over the last month, I thought now would be a good time for an update. Again I am hesitant to write too much detail because I don’t want to offend or betray a confidence, so please forgive me if this comes across a little vague at times.
The first indication that this was not to be an ordinary holiday season was my kind hearted wife informing me that she had invited a guest to come along with us for our Christmas visit to my grandmother. Admittedly I wasn’t happy about this, knowing that Grandmamma would prefer Christmas to be a family affair. Nevertheless, not willing to rescind the offer and personally liking the idea of reaching out to others in the true spirit of a birthday celebration for Jesus, I gently broke the news to Grandmamma and was granted permission to bring our guest along.
I must interject here that Grandmamma is one of the most giving people I know and has reached out to others throughout her life. I love and respect her and do not want her to be perceived as anything less than the wonderful person that she is.
A short time later, my beloved learned that another member of our church would have no place to be, and before I knew it we had gained a second passenger for our trip. I wasn’t sure how to deal with this development, but again couldn’t gracefully back out. Linda was acting in the love and compassion that I talk about, but I was just trying to figure out how to resolve an uncomfortable situation.
Enter number three, and this one sleeps on our sofa. I confess I wasn’t in any kind of Christmas spirit. I like to say that the Christmas spirit has horns. Mine certainly did. Through no choice of my own I now had a problem with no good solution. I’ve written about doing the “right thing.” That’s extremely important to me, though as you know if you read my post I question my motives for it. In this case I had no clear choice. I could either pack them all into our minivan and impose three unexpected guests on Grandmamma, or I could break my promise to her to come for Christmas and stay home. Not being prepared to incur the hotel expenses of bringing everyone along, I opted to stay home.
Despite my reluctance, I’m glad we were able to do what we did. I think this is the first time in my life I really gave Jesus a present on the day we celebrate His birthday. It was a wonderful day. I hope we can do similar things in the years to come.
Presumably, our homeless houseguest is still with us, though it remains to be seen whether she will return after leaving us a few days ago. We have come to the conclusion that she needs help from more capable hands than ours, and we have made an effort to find those hands for her. What she does remains her choice, but we have set a date by which she must make a decision. Though I am less certain than my beloved about what needs to happen, due to circumstances I don’t feel free to mention here, we will not be able to help her much longer. Pray for her and for us.
This season has caused me to take a hard look at myself. Granted, it doesn’t’ take much to get me to do that. I’m pretty hard on myself. As usual, I’m not happy with what I see, but I think there’s a degree to which that is a good thing. If Jesus is our standard, we always fall short and should not be content with ourselves. What I need to learn is to trust that He loves me regardless of my shortcomings. I am truly amazed at the mercy He has shown me. I’ve missed His best countless times, yet he is making something good of all my error. That He is willing even now to bring me to a place of joy and fulfillment seems too good to be true. He seems to be doing just that, and I am moved beyond my ability to express. So, I thank Him for this difficult but rewarding season and hope that I have learned a little something from it.
This is always a challenging time of year for me. I’m always relieved when it’s over. I always feel a lot of pressure to do things that have nothing to do with the real object of Christmas, the celebration of Jesus’ birth. I’m not particularly interested in the arguments against celebrating Christmas at all. Yes, the date was adjusted by the Catholic church to coincide with a pagan festival. Yes, many of the traditions now part of Christmas have pagan roots. I’m not convinced that God is much concerned with all of that. He is concerned with the condition of our hearts. For most of us, the Christmas tree has no link to the idolatry that brought it to us. Santa is a different issue. I suppose no harm is done by playing out the fantasy for children as long as we tell them it’s a fantasy. The story does have some Christian roots. However, lying to them that he is real, giving him god like qualities only to have the myth debunked in later years compromises our witness to the real God. As to timing, His birth was probably several months earlier, but we can’t even agree on the year, much less the day. Let’s put all that aside and celebrate His birth.
That leads to the question of how. This is where we’ve gone terribly wrong. Certainly charitable giving goes up, but even much of that is pointless. Myriad organizations exist to give toys to poor children on Christmas. What good is that? It may make them happy for a while, but it only feeds the self-oriented spirit that should be antithetical to a celebration of the One who gave it all. The children receive no lasting benefit while we can feel good about ourselves for giving them a Christmas experience. This is not to say that it cannot be a tool for sharing the Gospel and the love of Jesus or that more practical giving does not occur. In fact, it’s a better use of our resources then spending them on ourselves and our families, who generally don’t need and sometimes don’t want what they end up getting.
Even among Christians, Christmas celebrations are often more about us than about Him. He gets a nod. Some of us might even go to church and a few of those may worship rather than watch a show, but most of us just round up the family and rip into the presents. I’ve used this analogy before, but I think it’s a good one so I’ll repeat it. Let’s say it’s your birthday. It’s amazing how many people are celebrating it. There are parties all over the world. There’s just one problem. You’re not invited to any of them. In fact, if you showed up at most of them you would not even be welcome. Everyone buys presents, but none of them are for you. They are all for each other.
Christmas can be a wonderful time. There’s nothing inherently evil about most of the things we do. Enjoy the fun, but don’t forget why the season exists in the first place. Bring a present for Jesus. Never was the question so appropriate, “what do you get for someone who already has everything?” I think I know a few things He would like.
- He really loves new creations. If you take this wonderful opportunity to share His story with someone who doesn’t know Him yet and that person turns His life over to Jesus, you’ve just Given Jesus the best gift ever.
- On kind of a related note, He’s really into forgiveness. Maybe you have friends or family you’re not getting along with. Maybe this Christmas would be a good time for reconciliation. He’d really like that.
- He likes it when you give. It’s fine to give to those from whom you expect something back, but He’s not real impressed with that. He likes it better when you give to someone who can’t return the favor. Read Luke 14.
- Share the love. If you know of anyone who won’t have a family this Christmas, invite them into yours. We know He likes that, because that’s what He did for us.
Those are just a few suggestions, but you get the idea. I bet you can think of lot’s more good things Jesus would like for His birthday this year.
Happy birthday, Jesus.
This is a post from my previous blogs that you may have already seen. Hopefully I’ve finally found a permanent home for the blog.
Most of the time, someone else has already expressed my opinion and has done so more eloquently than I would. I often think that something would make a good topic for discussion but never make the time to write it up. So, here are a few interesting articles that have recently come to my attention.
Why is it that just about every time we hear about election fraud, it’s a losing Democrat making the claim? Florida is back in the news.
Gun control issues are properly addressed by striking down unconstitutional legislation at all levels, but I like this idea even though it is no more than rhetoric.
Ok, it’s a little late, but this excellent Christmas commentary is worth reading.