Yes, I am recovering from my illness, slowly but surely! I’m not 100% yet but I can’t miss the chance to delight in Christmas. When else can one walk in the public spaces, malls and schools singing about Christ together with everyone else? Even when I was in Thailand, a mostly Buddhist country, they had Christian Christmas carols playing everywhere! Amazing.
And yet…there is this battle between “Merry Christmas” vs “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Holidays.” Why do North Americans insist on taking Christ out of this season? As the comedian says in Go Fish’s Christmas With a Capital C, “No one wants to say Merry Christmas because of the name of Christ. After 2000 years he’s still intimidating people!” (approximate paraphrase!).
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:8 – 14 NIV
I could say a lot about Christmas; many have. But what seems to touch my heart right now is the phrase that the angel said, “Do not be afraid.”
O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
There are many in the world who are living in exile right now. When you mention Christmas it reminds them of many things: they’re away from family, they’re tired, lonely, sad, desperate, lost. I think for some there is a fear in saying the name of Christ. There is a power about it. It makes us feel the depth of our emptiness if we are separate from God.
“Happy Holidays” is easier to say. There is no suggestion of Lordship or obligation or conviction. No mysterious sense of missing something. We don’t have to really love to say “Seasons Greetings”.
I encourage you to remember this season that Christ is the reason for our joy and celebration at this time. Not what we have or don’t have. Not where we live or whether we are single or married. But rather the hope that God promised us all those centuries ago that is fulfilled in His perfect Son, Jesus Christ. And that this joy is for all people. Let’s not be afraid! Let’s love those who are hardest to love. If God can do it, surely with His help, so can we! And let’s remind people that this is the season of joy, of Christmas! Of the best gift of all time: the gift of Christ!