Perhaps this is a good time to ask the question I will seek to answer in this blog series: “How did we get to Christmas in the way we celebrate today?” Is our celebration of Christmas biblically informed, or is it a cultural creation? Did we “steal” it from pagan religion as some have insisted, or do we find the purpose for celebration in the Bible?
All good questions. The answer is: some of each. The Christmas that most are familiar with in the modern western world, at least, is something far removed from biblical roots. There is, for instance, no mention of a “Christmas tree” in the Bible… no colorfully wrapped gifts… no bright shining lights or chestnuts roasting on an open fire. There was, in the Bible, no Christmas dinner… no Perry Como or Pentatonix singing “Winter Wonderland.” And, heavens, no blow-up Santa Claus or tiny reindeer.
Now all of that said (I feel better), let me hasten to say there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with celebrating as we do. Certainly the emphasis on family and Christmas decorations and dinners and carol singing don’t take anything away from us if we do it. And I, for one, like chestnuts roasting and eggnog (non-alcoholic, of course) and Christmas songs. Okay, I admit it: I even like fruit cake!
Nothing is wrong until we push Jesus out of the picture. If our celebrations can carry on just fine without mention of, reference to or worship of Jesus… then we’ve crossed a line. We have allowed it to become a secular observance with a materialistic overtone.
If we set aside Jesus in favor of Santa, and getting gifts in preference to giving homage to the King, we have moved our celebration into the area of secularism at best and idolatry at worst. If Christ is removed, the best we can do is Xmas.
But if Christ is present, the meaning of Christmas can be known… and enjoyed. And with the angels we can sing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
Father, may we rejoice with the angels again this Christmas. Let our celebration be bright with His Presence, and our songs rejoice in His coming most of all. May all other aspects of this seasonal celebration pale in the light of His glory and grace, who has come to save us all. In Christ’s Name we pray, Amen.