It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!
Personally, I love Christmas. I love to give gifts and watch Janice shop for deals. (If you ask me, there are several companies you should dump your stock on after she gets through with her bargain shopping…). We begin buying gifts in the spring and summer and keep them aside for the holidays. It is all great fun.
I like the dinner planning, who is going to whose house, and are we doing a “fakey” Christmas, because the kids are going to their in-laws, or are we celebrating on the actual day. For us, nothing beats having all our kids at home for the day, watching them play games, enjoying the noise level going way, way up, and then as families go home, going way, way down. We enjoy going to see lights (sigh, no Griswolds of Greeley this year), listening to Handel’s Messiah, singing Christmas Carols and of course our annual Christmas Candlelight Service on Christmas Eve at 4pm (shameless plug).
What gets harder for me each season is the increasing secular push from retailers, leaders and the culture, pushing Jesus further and further out of the center of this beautiful time of year. Have you noticed, the songs on the Christmas commercials? I don’t know about you, but “I Got You Babe” by Sonny and Cher, “Chim-chim- cherrie”from Mary Poppins, and “You Make Me Feel Brand New” by Hall and Oats are not on my Spotify play list this year for Christmas, or any year for that matter.
Not to make too fine a point, but I was watching the new Peter Jackson Beatles’ film about the last month in the life of the group that ended in the famous rooftop concert in London, and heard the “lads”, namely John and Paul, mock people calling for a return to the real meaning of Christmas. Why this push against Christmas and its obvious roots, "the Christ mass (or service)"?
Our culture would love to push Jesus out of the celebration. They want to gaslight Christmas and make it about a fat elf in a red suit, miniature "Spocks" running around with pointy ears, and above all else, profits and commercialization. Now, it doesn't mean you shouldn't have fun in the holiday or not watch Rudolph. It's that you have to remember that one story is true, and the rest of the cultural trappings are either commercial in nature and origin or direct inventions of man. We have fun with all of it, but we know the truth and align to that.
All of this was referenced in the first century in Paul’s epistle to the Romans where he states: "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them." (Romans 1:13,14) Suppression, read “gaslighting”, is where you memory hole truth. Keep busy enough, merry enough, focused on the periphery and you don’t have to deal with Jesus as “the reason for the season”. You see, culture will play with the idea of Jesus as an infant. You only need watch Talledega Nights one time to see the mocking about the baby Jesus. But our culture hates Jesus who came as king. They like the first century have rejected God in the person of Jesus saying, "No king but Caesar!"
This is what the culture misses.
His relentless pursuit of redemption for the human race.
His warfare on the spirits of the age and their ruling systems.
The invasion of the kingdom of God
Jesus is the center of the holiday because God is the center of this act of insurgency. Christmas is an act of war. It was the beginning of a guerrilla campaign for the stakes of the entire human race, the future of mankind, and the creation. Jesus is the center of love. He is the gift God gave. He was sown in vulnerability as a child. He came as fully God and fully man on a mission, to usher in the breakthrough of the kingdom of God and all its beauty, glory and power to a rebel planet and a determined enemy.
This is why I celebrate Christmas. For every story that has an ending, Christmas is a beginning. Keeping Christmas as a celebration of the birth of the King and the ushering in of the kingdom of God is worth celebrating, each and every year.
So gear up, have fun and keep Jesus in the center of it all!