Christmas is now a week away. Are you ready? No, I’m not asking if you bought all your gifts, have your tree decorated, or have made your famous snicker-doodle cookies. I’m asking if you focus and heart is ready and in the right place. This guest post by Stephen Manley is about the skewing of Christmas. You can find out more about Stephen Manley on his website or follow him on Twitter.
If you knew the truth about Christmas, it would radically change your life. This is one of the expanding and increasing problems with Christmas. We are gradually losing our focus of Jesus. Think of the CLUTTER of the Christmas season. All the additions, which seemed innocent in the beginning, are now dominant. The development of the Santa Clause theme was a nice tradition. St. Nicholas, a godly pastor, cared for his people all through the year. He had a flowing white beard and robust countenance and was seen leaving gifts on the porches of the poor. He did it in the name of Jesus. His death occurred around Christmas time, and to honor his life many carried on his tradition of gift giving on the day of his death. It was quickly combined with Christmas. What could be wrong with this?
How did reindeers enter the picture? Where did Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer come from? When did we shift from giving gifts to getting them? What about the Christmas tree? Does it have anything to do with the cross? If it does, how did it become the center of a season where we teach our children it is all right to be self-centered? Hey, world! You cannot have my Christmas. Jesus is the reason for the season. You cannot have Christmas without Jesus!
I am amazed at the CONFUSION of Christmas. The name of Christ dominates the term Christmas. How can anyone celebrate Christmas without worshipping Jesus? In my childhood, many people were distressed because of the use of “Xmas.” Christ was left out of Christmas. Now we have moved to “Happy Holidays.” Santa Claus fits the theology of the world. He can drink with you at parties and he can cater to your selfish desires. The Christ child calls us to worship; something bigger than we can understand is happening here. Hey, world! You cannot have my Christmas. Christ is still at the heart of this season.
Have you listened to the CLAMOR and noise level of Christmas? Everyone attempts to get your attention. “Black Friday” now starts on Thanksgiving afternoon with greater savings on Christmas gifts. The Christmas music is everywhere from “Jingle Bells” to “White Christmas.” It will take you all year to pay back what you have charged to your credit card during this season. My phone began ringing before the end of Thanksgiving Day. Hurting families want to be sure they have gifts for their children on Christmas Day. Frankly, I don’t care if their children have gifts or not; I care if they know Jesus. But they do not come to us about Him; they come drawn by the clamor and pressure of the world.
The “lights” are on; many communities have competitions to judge the best displays. Special parties are in the planning. Exchanging gifts is expected. Invitations to big dinners are in the mail. We tell jokes, sing carols, and plan days off. Festivity and merriment are called forth for the hour. Late nights will be our experience. It is all a part of the clamor of another Christmas. Where is Jesus? Hey, world! You cannot have my Christmas. I will not allow it!
Question: Where do you tend to place your focus during Christmas? Join the conversation in the comments below.
This was taken from Stephen’s commentary on Matthew 1:18 he wrote for his sermon at Cross Style Church preached on December 16, 2012.