Summary: Christians are experiencing "Christmas" in a pluralistic culture. The secular culture and marketplace want to keep the profits but do not want to acknowledge the "Incarnation" which does not sell computer games. M.Luther sought to explain the mystery..."
In Jesus Holy Name December 24, 2005
Christmas Eve Redeemer Lutheran
“Life Without Christmas”
How did Christmas become so complicated? Some stores won’t allow the Salvation Army to collect donations to help them meet the minimal needs of the poor and down trodden. Other stores refuse to allow their employees to even speak the words, “Merry Christmas”. It has become politically incorrect in a pluralistic culture to wish you a “Merry Christmas”.
Lowe’s Home Improvement Stores did finally take down their “Holiday Tree” banner and put up “Christmas Tree” banners. I guess the sales were not going so well for “holiday trees”. The U.S. Capitol “holiday tree” was restored to the “Capitol Christmas Tree”.
We know these stories are not making the change to honor the birth of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. It’s about business.
Several years ago, John Leo, who writes editorial for U.S. News and World Report made the following comment about our culture and the season of Christmas. “And Joseph went up from Galilee to Bethlehem with Mary, his espoused wife, who was great with child. While there, she gave birth to her 1st born son, wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room in the inn. The angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds and said, “I bring you good tidings of great joy. Unto you is born a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”
A Pharisee who happened to be strolling by said, “Joseph, there’s a problem with the angel. Angels are widely regarded as religious symbols and the stable is on public property. This whole thing looks to me like a Nativity scene. That’s a no no.”
Joseph responded: “What should I do? What if I added a couple of reindeer near the ox and ass?” “That would help.” Said the Pharisee. “And maybe throw in a candy cane or a snowman. No court can resist that.” Mary asked: “What does my son’s birth have to do with snowmen?” “Snow persons!” cried a bystander.
A calm voice said, “Be of good cheer Mary, you have done well and your son will change the world.” “At last, a sane person,” Mary thought. She turned to see a radiant and confident female face. The woman spoke again. “There is one thing though. Religious holidays are important but we must learn to celebrate them in ways that unite, not divide.” For instance, “instead of Gloria In Excelesis Deo
Why not just “season’s greetings.”
If you look at the art work in the bulletin carefully you’ll see that the secular culture never really wanted the simple manger scene. (I have placed a picture from Christianity Today early 1990’s which shows a manger scene under a Christmas tree…but with each frame…more and more gifts eventually hide the manger scene from view)
Christmas has become the test of a big box retailer’s 4th quarter financials. On line purchasing at “Overstocked.com” and center mall displays by Hickory Farms depend on the Christmas season for profit. If there were no Christmas, merchants would invent it.
Tonight millions of Christians will proclaim “ba humbug” to political correctness in a secular culture with the singing of traditional Christmas hymns. As God’s people we come together to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus “Christmas means more than just the birth of a baby. Christmas is when God chose to enter the world he created with flesh and bone. It is the miracle we call the “Incarnation”.
The Incarnation is the ultimate and final disclosure of the eternal God. It tells us who God is, what God is like and what God wants. The Incarnation is the self realization of the Absolute Being Himself, the pre-existent Son of God, talking human form.”
The Apostle Paul writes: “God was pleased to have all of his full deity dwell in (Christ) him, and through him reconcile to himself all things…. By making peace through his blood (the blood of Jesus) shed on the cross.” (Colossians 1:20)
Christmas is about God’s gift of ultimate hope and love for the human race, not about the merchant’s gifts under the holiday tree that hides the manger with Mary and Joseph.
The angel told Joseph that the child born to Mary was conceived by the Holy Spirit. He would be called, “Immanuel, which means “God with us.” The eternal God who created the heavens and earth now resides in a cradle of wood from a tree He created.
Jesus totally and completely experienced humanity with all its’ self limitations, sorrow, suffering and death. Jesus in his humanity was tested and tempted by the devil himself, yet Jesus was without sin.
Secular culture doesn’t want the “incarnation”. Emmanuel God with us, does not sell computer games, tevo or cologne. Society wants the cute stuff, fluffy sheep, cows, the infant Jesus, (as long as he remains an infant) stars and St. Nicholas, reindeer and fir trees.