Summary: Increasingly Christ has been pushed out of Christmas... but there is a deeper struggle and a higher objective for us who love Jesus. No matter how successful the world may be in removing Christ from Christmas... our Jesus is "on the move."
OPEN: On December 10th we’ve reserved the local movie theatre for a private viewing of “The Tale Of Narnia – The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” It’s the story of 4 children in war ravaged WWII London who are sent to the country, to the home of a rich relative where 1 of their only pastimes becomes playing hide and seek.
During one of these games, one of the children hides in a wardrobe (closet) that turns out to be a doorway into a magical and mystical land called Narnia. It was a beautiful land, but Narnia was held in bondage by an evil witch who is so cruel that she had turned it into a realm where it was always winter… but never Christmas.
Narnia is a beautiful land, but it’s crippled because something was missing. It was always winter and the land and its people lacked the joy that Christmas could bring
APPLY – By contrast, the problem in our society today is NOT that we don’t have Christmas. In fact we seem to have Christmas for a veryyyy long time.
Even before Thanksgiving you begin to hear the “sounds of Christmas” – the music, the bells, the annoying TV commercials. It seems that everywhere you look, you see this holiday advertised in newspapers, on radios and TV and in every store across the land.
Our problem is NOT that we don’t have Christmas… but increasingly it is a Christmas without Christ. We have the celebration, but the celebration has gradually edged out Jesus. In fact, there are people who are attempting to gradually remove any mention of Jesus – who is the source of Christmas’ joy and power.
ILLUS: The American Family Association (AFA) recently examined a couple of newspapers in the Memphis Area & they analyzed over 280 pages of advertising they had collectively in them.
AFA found that Christmas was not mentioned by Target, Kroger, Office Max, Walgreen, Sears, Staples, Lowe’s, J.C. Penney, Dell and Best Buy. These stores refused to mention “Christmas” in their advertising – but substituted the term “holiday” 59 times instead. If you were to ask these companies why they’ve banned “Christmas” in their in-store promotions and retail advertising and they’ll tell you they didn’t want to offend anyone… except perhaps Christians.
Fox news commentator Bill O’Reilly sees this as a small conflict but one which is part of a larger “culture war” being waged to remove Christ from the public stage.
* School bus drivers in Maine were banned from leading Christmas carols.
* Broward County in Florida told Calvary Chapel a couple of years ago that they could not include the words "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" in their Christmas display, the church filed a suit in the U.S. District Court claiming they had the right to display the words. Judge William Zloch agreed with their "free speech" argument and allowed them to keep the words in their display as long as they included the words, "Calvary Chapel says," before the words "Jesus is the Reason for the Season."
* And recently one school even outlawed the “whistling” of Christmas carols” because someone just might recognize the words from those tunes and wrongly believe that Jesus was the reason for the season.
Now, this IS a culture war and it’s being waged despite the fact that the majority of Americans believe in the story of Christmas.
ILLUS: Last year, Newsweek conducted a telephone poll of over 1000 adults
79% of Americans believed that Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, without a human father
67% said they believed the entire story of Christmas was historically accurate
93 percent of Americans said they believed Jesus Christ actually lived and
82 percent believed Jesus Christ was God or the Son of God.
Of course, there ARE those who don’t agree. And they believe that by removing Christ from Christmas they would actually make the world a better place.
Well… what difference would it make if Christ was taken out of Christmas?
According to that same Newsweek poll, the question was asked: What if Jesus had never born?
63% - believed there would be less charity
61% - less kindness
59% - less personal happiness
58% - less tolerance
47% - more war (16% say less, 26% say the same)
Well… is that true? Would the world be worse off if Christ were removed from Christmas?
A visit to one period of history gives a startling insight:
ILLUS: According to one historian: Before the advent of the Christmas carol, celebrations of Christmas had become so depraved and rowdy that the observance of the joyous season was once forbidden by the English Parliament.
The meaning of Christmas had become lost in a maelstrom of reveling, drunkenness, rioting, and depravity. Decent people found it necessary to stay indoors for safety. The situation became so shameful that in 1644 Parliament passed strict laws making it illegal to commemorate the season in any way whatsoever!