Summary: WHile much of the world awaits the arrival of Christmas as a Holy Day, those who deny its real significance seem bent on insisting that it is just another holiday.
Hollow Day, Holiday, or Holy Day?
“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of Bethlehem a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.’” (Luke 2:10-11)
If you’ve been watching any NFL football games on the weekend, and especially the Green Bay Packers in Wisconsin, you probably have seen the snow falling during the games - you may have even shivered a little as you thought of those poor players in their short sleeve jerseys, or the fans bundled up in their very warm coats. I could probably endure 3 hours in that cold if I was getting paid what some of those guys are getting paid, but to pay to stand in that snowing cold and watch them, no way! I’ll take my TV, thank you.
Snow has been falling in other parts of the US, and of course already falling and staying on the ground in the colder climates of Hokkaido and Korea. Hawaii’s volcanos have also had their first snow falls of the season as well. At over 10,000 feet, they always collect snow by November each year. In Los Alamos, NM, we always had a white Christmas.
I saw a story on the news from Australia the other night, and the reporter wasn’t even wearing a jacket - it’s summertime in the southern hemisphere. Weather is just one indicator that we’re celebrating the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons - there are other indicators as well- when the stores start stocking their shelves with Christmas decorations in September and playing Christmas music over their loud speakers in November.
Thus, the stage is set for the arrival of what is the most awaited day of the year - December 25 - Christmas Day. And no matter who you talk to, you will probably find that each person sees Christmas in one of three ways - it’s either a Hollow Day, a Holiday, or a Holy Day. How will you celebrate it?
I. A Hollow Day
Every so often you read about someone who is taking the joy out of Christmas. Just a couple of weeks ago, in Honolulu, a Hawaiian activist decided that a high school’s annual Christmas concert should be discontinued because of the working agreement between a mega-church and the high-school band and orchestra director.
For the past seven years the Moanalua High School band and orchestra have been putting on a Christmas concert. Tickets were sold by members of the band and members of the New Hope church in Honolulu. Proceeds from the ticket sales were given to a charity that ministered to children in Africa. These concerts provided nearly $200,000 each year to this charity. No money was used by the church or the band. The church even rented another school’s auditorium to stage the concert.
Along comes the local Mr. Grinch to put a stop to this practice. By threatening to sue the school, he ended a highly successful charity event that blessed the band and orchestra, the community, and those children in Africa. He turned this Christmas celebration into a Hollow Day - it took away one of the prevalent purposes of Christmas - to give gifts to others, just as the wise men came and brought gifts to the baby Jesus.
If people like this ever reach the point that they’re able to take Christ out of Christmas, they will end up with a day set aside for a hollow, empty, celebration. We must do as we’re enjoined to do almost every year - make Christ the reason for the season! If we don’t, we’ll end up with a Hollow Day.
II. A Holiday
While much of the world awaits the arrival of Christmas, there are those who deny its real significance - they seem bent on insisting that it’s just another holiday like Memorial Day, Labor Day, or Thanksgiving. We need to keep Christ in Christmas so that it doesn’t become just another day off from work.
I really wonder if they have ever thought about how things would be if they got their way? What if the hundreds of millions of us who celebrate Christmas as the day of the incarnation of God’s only begotten son gave in and agreed with them? What would happen to their holiday if it were no longer observed by us as a special Holy Day?
I don’t think it’s the trapping of Christmas - the Christmas tree, the decorations, the thousands of lights, the gifts - these are not the things that make Christmas special. And there can be no doubt that it is highly commercialized, especially in the wealthier nations of the world. Look at the millions of dollars that are spent on gifts.