Christmas Makes a Comeback


   In recent years I wrote a December newsletter article lamenting the "War on Christmas." Of course, there is evidence for such a war. Believers rightly point to towns that have taken down their nativity scenes, school plays that banish carols in favor of "holiday" songs, and the prevalence of a man in a red suit in favor of the Babe of Bethlehem. 
    Last year I saw a meme on Facebook in which someone suggested not shopping at any store that didn't have the word "Christmas" in their signage. An interesting thought. So I drove over to the mall, and searched. In December 2014 I found only three stores in the entire mall that used the word "Christmas."
    What was in its place? A picture of Santa Claus, with the caption, "Believe." Lots of good cheer, and the urging to share "Joy" with our loved ones. The word "Holiday" was everywhere; but little mention of what holiday was in mind.
    We could go on and on. But I want to give us a little good news: This year, the Monday after Thanksgiving Renée and I walked the mall, and there were already many more appearances of Christmas than last year. I didn’t count them, but its increasing usage was unmistakable. This was a happy thing to see, in my opinion. 
    This often happens. The pendulum swings too far one way, then people get tired of it, and it swings back.
    I don’t know how you feel about this, but I try for all I'm worth not to be one of those Christians that growls out the words, "Merry Christmas," as if it were an argument instead of a greeting. Sometimes we imply that "Christ has come, and boy am I miserable following Him in a world like this." Few will be attracted to such a faith.
    I think this year I'd rather focus on the good things I see.
   One of those is that Renée and I finally went to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. (It's hard to believe, but we've lived here for 15 years, and we just now got around to it. Oh well, you know how your schedule is…)
    Anyway, the Christmas Spectacular is, to coin a word, spectacular. The dancing is great. There are many costume changes. The music is cheerful and up-lifting. There was a little bit of corny humor. The staging is fantastic in the way that only New York does it.
    And then there's also the Christmas Narrative. Yep, read right out of the King James Version of the Bible.
  One thing I noticed: right after the first section of Scripture (there were several), there was applause. Nothing amazing had happened on stage. I could be wrong, but it felt as if people were responding to the aforementioned dearth of Christmas in our culture, and saying, "Hey, we just heard from the Bible, and it was nice."
    Yeah, right there in Midtown, "Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord."
    Several Christmas carols were sung, which, by the way, often have a rich theology. "God and sinners reconciled," as one of them goes. "Incense owns a Deity nigh," another puts it.
    The Gospel is rejected by many; even opposed by some. Yes, the coming of Christ creates a world in which some receive Him and some don't.
    But for us, let's be glad to hear the "good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." A Savior is born! God's Word is fulfilled! 
    Even better, it appears that this year more people are ready to say so.

God Bless,

Pastor Walt