November 20, 2023
Please note that this rant is not edited by, nor is it approved by my Copy Editor, my wife, Patty, because she feels it is much too negative regarding the Gospel message, and it is much too rude and crude… So, I am unrestrained like a loose cannon on a warship… and on my own in this battle for a sea change in our perspectives surrounding Christmas…
Now, it ‘s that time of year when all eyes turn to Christmas and the advent, the beginning of the season of the god, Santa Claus, and the worship of material stuff, receiving its temporal blessings of fantastic plastic, perpetuating forever in our lives- forever decorating such places as our walkways, forests, streams, oceans, and scenic landfills…
I hope so….
Let’s proceed full speed ahead… After all, as one Lookout on the HMS Titanic said, we can smell any ice ahead… Let’s fill up all our credit cards, in the desperate, even fanatical pursuit of love, joy, and fulfillment, through personal satisfaction. It may be our last chance to fill up our stockings, hung by our chimneys with care, in the hopes of receiving something besides the lumps of coal life has been giving us. We must hurry. Another chance won’t happen until the Easter Bunny comes ahopping to our doors. And, talking about hopping, let’s just all hop over Thanksgiving. We’ve put in all the hard work ourselves, and we deserve to get right to the business of our rewards…
Now, many of us, in this culture, think of Christmas as a time for family, friends and celebration — certainly not as a dark blot on our lives. It’s not unlike the most recent celebration, Halloween. Some church leaders who have traveled the world during this holiday see something more.
Some cultures call it the Day of the Dead, and many satanic things are going on within its “celebration.” So, they rightly rail against Christian participation of any kind. However, “trick or treating” is far from such activity. In my family, I certainly enjoy every time we celebrate anything as a family. The problem for me with religious holidays is the exclusion of Jesus.
The worst result of Jesus’ exclusion is the fact that. like my parents. and before them, their parents, and in generations long passed them, the fable of Santa Claus has been perpetuated and exalted, minimizing and eventually replacing in children’s minds Jesus in the preeminent place where He belongs. So, it has become a generational tradition, a self-perpetuating exclusion. Santa is far more important in our culture than Jesus.
The fable apparently is an easier path to follow. We know it is fantasy, having no real demands of us; whereas God does have a few real requests.
I am writing to remind us that God is no fable and has a better way… even though He has those few requests… His rewards are way better than that doll or that train set.
Like everybody else, I have grown up with certain indoctrinations which have become assumptions, which then are taken for granted as being truth. For instance, in my own experience, one dramatic example came one evening. I was old enough to know better, but I still went ahead. I totally embarrassed my Dad in front of his friends by stating that catfish got their name, because at night, they come out of the water, climb trees, and eat baby birds… (My older brother had told me that when I was much younger. It was stuck in my mind until that time when I regurgitated it out publicly.) So, I am including myself in this critical observation. I never exclude myself from what I write.
How else would I know errors without having fallen into them myself? The Bible claims the same for everyone: “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” (Romans 2:1).
Nevertheless, one clue to the “better way” I want to emphasize is, of course, within the name itself — “Christmas.”
It used to be a liturgical celebration of the birth of the promised Savior of the entire populace of the whole world — past, present, and future. Unfortunately for all of us, Jesus has been relegated to the back row, continuing to be pushed further and further out of our lives until He is completely outside, perhaps peering in through a window or something, eventually walking away from our houses altogether…
Thankfully, Jesus’ way is never to walk away: “…instead, God is patient with us, not wanting anyone to perish…” and “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” — 2 Peter 3:9 and John 1:14.
Anecdotally, the exact date of Jesus’ birth is not specified in the Bible. Apparently His Disciples thought that wasn’t important. Ignoring that fact, many have tried to pinpoint it. December 25th was an original attempt but has fallen under much criticism. Other dates have tried to pinpoint the advent, but what drives this quest is intellectual curiosity. I tried several attempts myself to chase that rainbow, but like every other theory, my knowledge of relevant facts kept changing.
For example, I came to the conclusion that His birth had to be around the sheep birthing season. That was the time when shepherds would be out in the fields in force at night to protect the herds from predators attracted by all the blood. Sensible, until I discovered the fact that European sheep have a birthing season, whereas Middle Eastern sheep, which are a completely different breed, bear their young throughout the year.
The same principle kept on occuring in my research for whatever series of facts made me come back to the conclusion that the date of His birth was insignificant compared to the fact that Jesus was actually born. The Promise of Messiah’s arrival was fulfilled in Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. The same conclusion holds true for His life and death and resurrection. Those are the most important facts to remember — not dithering about dates.
“We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” — Romans 3. Let’s put aside silly fables like Santa. Let’s try to remember that Jesus left His throne in Heaven to come to Earth as a fellow Human Being to rescue us from ourselves.