Just a Thought … Christ in Christmas

“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.”

Matthew 1:23 (NRSV)

It all started very subtly years ago, so subtle in fact that most of us didn’t really pay any attention. As is often the case with movements of this nature, it expanded and escalated each year up to the present time. Now, many are shaking their heads asking themselves questions like: “How did all this happen so suddenly?” and “Who or what caused it to get out of hand?”

The “movement” I’m referring to is the ongoing trend in our nation to take Christ out of Christmas. Not surprisingly, this movement began in our schools years ago. In an attempt to embrace children and youth of all faiths (and because of concern for separation of church and state), schools began to remove any references to Christmas from official programs and correspondences. Thus, what was once called Christmas vacations and pageants became holiday vacations and concerts.

It wasn’t long before another longtime Christmas tradition came under attack. A small but vocal number of self-proclaimed atheists began to voice their grievances and even file lawsuits against towns and cities across our nation in an attempt to remove nativity scenes from all public properties such as community parks and town squares. Again, the purported reason for taking such actions was so as not to offend persons of other faiths (or of no faith).

In subsequent Christmas seasons, many businesses took another major step in taking Christ out of
Christmas by removing all references to “Christmas” in their ads and stores. Major retailers in almost every area of sales soon joined the movement.

I’ll share what I believe are the likely answers to the questions we’re asking ourselves regarding this
matter. First, concerning the question of how all this happened so suddenly, the simple answer is that it didn’t. As I mentioned earlier, attempts to take Christ out of Christmas have been taking place for many years now. And, one of the major reasons I think the movement is so successful is its subtle nature. Slowly and deliberately, the move to a more secular society is having success because persons are advancing one seemingly insignificant cause at a time.

I believe the answer to the latter question regarding whom or what caused the movement to get out of
hand is key. Before we, as Christians, begin placing blame on obvious persons and/or circumstances, I think we have to look in the mirror. That’s right. Ultimately, we are the ones responsible for the trend to take Christ out of Christmas, because we have taken Christ out of Christmas ourselves long before the movement began.

This may sound harsh, but I believe that we Christians have slowly but surely been taking Christ out of
Christmas in our own spiritual lives, until all that remains for current movements to attack is the hollow name of Christ itself. In a sense, then, there isn’t a spiritual warfare going on here because we have all but removed the Spirit of Christ from Christmas ourselves already.

Even more, since when do we rely on and even demand that secular retailers (or public schools and officials, for that matter) spread the good news of Christmas. Isn’t that what we are called by God to do? Remember, Emmanuel is “God with us,” not God with the corporate offices and retail stores trying to earn a profit.

So, what I am suggesting is that before we immediately place blame on the retailers and let them have it “with both barrels,” we need to do some serious introspective reflection on whether we have already taken Christ out of Christmas in our own lives. If so, perhaps we need to start putting up signs and advertising the good news of Christmas ourselves first.

In the end, a person who is truly seeking Christ in their lives will find Him in us and not in some store signs saying, “Merry Christmas!” And, proclaiming Christ in our own lives is the best way to keep Christ in Christmas. Just a thought . . . Oh, and yes, have a Merry Christmas!

Pastor Paul