We are now in the Holiday season. A time of year when we look forward to celebrating the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Recently, we thanked God for past and present blessings during our national Thanksgiving holiday. And now we look forward with great anticipation, to December 25th, Christmas day. We prepare for festive celebration and rejoicing: families gather, gifts are purchased, and food prepared.
It is interesting to note that we are a nation that loves to celebrate. We enjoy setting aside a day, an hour, or a week to enjoy some specific occurrence or occasion. This is not, however, a recent tradition for mankind. Pagan history is filled with festive celebrations from the appeasement of gods, to fertility, to the increase of crops.
It was commanded by God that the Jews stop to recognize and remember how Jehovah/God brought them safely out of slavery and bondage into freedom and peace. And it was during the Passover (holiday), when the Jews were required to return to Jerusalem, the center of national worship, and remember what a mighty God they served. Consequently, we find it proper and in order to point to the coming of our Lord and Savior.
Our calender is replete with celebrating days for various events and individuals. Easter, Labor Day, New Year’s, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparent’s Day, Memorial Day, Martin Luther King Day, Christmas, are just s few. Name the occasion and somewhere on planet earth its being celebrated. Yes, we are a people that loves to celebrate.
Accordingly, it will serve us well to stop and ask ourselves, why are we celebrating? Why are we so jubilant? Why dine together? Why do we festivally fellowship, and socialize, with friends, relatives, and neighbors? Why the trees and trimming?---the tinsel and glitter. Why all the city decorations, firework stands, glowing lights, children being photographed with a man in a red suit? Why all the shopping and cluttered malls and freeways? One may simply say, “it’s Christmas Time... Don’t you see the Santa Claus, his reindeer’s, the toys and the Christmas Trees? It’s Christmas Time. Yes its Christmas Time.” That’s what the celebration is all about....Or is it? Is all the rejoicing for Jesus Christ, a light to lighten the Gentiles or is it for Santa Claus? What is all the festive celebrating really about? Is it for the Saviour or Santa? Are we as anxious about the annual celebration of the birth Jesus Christ as we are about the arrival of Saint Nick?
Let’s turn our attention to the gospel according to St. Luke 1:26-33 and here we will discover exactly where the spotlight of this season should fall:
“And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the Angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her Fear not, Mary: for thou has found favor with God, and, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of th Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”
Jesus Christ or Santa Claus? It has become more difficult to determine whether the Christ child is at the center of Christmas or Santa Claus. A primary reason is because the spirit of this season, as promoted by the world has become one gigantic commercial venture. We have gone from a season of joy and grace to a season of greed. The spotlight, if not far removed, has been precariously dimmed on the Christ child born in a manger. However, chubby little man in a red suit with a bag full of goodies is bathed in radiant beams and proudly displayed. The world has cleverly managed to turned the hearts of many Christians away from “the word that became flesh and dwelt among us,” St. John 1:14.
The most anticipated aspect of the Christmas holiday season is the receiving and giving of gifts. Hence, thecommercialization of Christmas world wide. There is nothing wrong with sharing gifts, sharing is a blessedact. But we should not make sharing gifts the central focus in our christian Christmas experience. Giving, in every way, must be a daily event not a contrived, once a year, special occasion act. Giving should be a daily experience, not a seasonal one.