Jesus Is the Reason for the Season
by Commissioner David Edwards –
The caption to this article is not an original. I first saw it some years ago on the back page of a War Cry and, even then, I believe it was a cliché that the editor had seen somewhere else.
I was reminded of this statement recently when I listened in on a conversation on a radio talk show. The issue being discussed had something to do with the celebration of Christmas. I was surprised when one objected to what the caller considered an unfair amount of exposure being given to views expressed by people who were obviously Christian. The caller did not think that this was appropriate.
Christians, according to the caller, were always trying to force their opinions on other people. When it came to Christmas, he maintained, they should not be allowed to do that. That one caught the host by surprise. He wondered whether the caller was really serious. Realizing that the caller was indeed serious, he had to explain that if there was one subject that Christians had every right to comment on, it was the celebration of Christmas. Christ was the sole reason why there was Christmas.
No surprise that an explanation of Christmas is needed
Thinking back on this incident, and given the way things are these days, I wonder if we should at all be surprised that it was necessary to explain Christmas to this caller. Granted, there is a greater number of people living in America today who are of cultures which have nothing to do with the celebration of Christmas. For a number of people it is just another holiday–one of a number that occur at about this time of the year. Why it is and what significance it has, they haven’t a clue.
Can we blame them for not knowing? Go to any shopping mall and what you will discover is that while there is a lot there to remind one that Christmas is coming, there is very little which says anything about its religious significance. You can find loads of Christmas decorations, but very little there to remind you of the Christ Child. Most of the time the Christmas songs we hear are about “Jolly Old St. Nicholas”–and about his reindeer or some such, hardly anything about the real message of Christmas.
We seem to be living in a society that is more interested in having fun than it is in encouraging faith. A society tolerant of everything and anything these days except the practice of religion–that is, the Christian religion. A society that wants to enjoy Christmas but wants to have nothing to do with Christ. A society that seems more interested in its symbols but cares little, if anything, for its significance.
A Christmas story without the Christ Child!
I like to tell the story of the time I visited one of our social institutions in the Caribbean for their annual Christmas party. It was an institution for children ages birth to 16 years. The children would first put on a Christmas program, followed by the food and the gifts. Like every good Christmas program, it had a portrayal of the story surrounding the birth of the Christ Child.
Now, I do not know what happened but somehow they forgot to write the Christ Child into the script. There were Mary and Joseph, there were the shepherds, the three wise men, the animals, the angels, but there was no baby. Someone had forgotten to get the baby and put him in the crib. An oversight, I am sure, but what a powerful reminder this served to all of us who were present, as we kept asking the question, “Where is the baby?”
Don’t forget the baby
This, too, is another reason why we cannot blame them for not knowing. When it comes to Christmas, we who are Christians cannot really be accused of caring more for its celebration than we do for its significance. We can however contribute to this loss of significance by simply forgetting to place the Christ Child at the center of all our Christmas activity. We can become so busy making sure that all that needs to get done is done and simply forget what exactly Christmas is all about.
Christmas is more than a birthday celebration. It is more than a seasonal affair. It is more than an opportunity to be seized or a feeling to be experienced. Christ-mas is about God and about his great love for the world.
The fundamental message of Christmas is that in Christ Jesus, God has come into world–no longer aloof and apart from our affairs. Through Christ he became one of us and can be touched with our weaknesses.
We are about to enter into the 21st century. This is the last Christmas we will celebrate this side of the millennium. It is true, the world in which we live today is completely different to the one which greeted the beginning of the 20th century. It is not exactly a bad thing having to explain what Christmas is all about. When we must become concerned is when people no longer care. In addition to praying that you will enjoy the peace of God this Christmas, I would also remind you “Don’t forget the baby.” He is the reason for the season.