Finding the Christmas Spirit

muddle's picture

[I wrote this for our family in Christmas '04. I just rediscovered it and thought to post it here, nowthat the shopping season has begun in earnest. I still stand by what I said. I hope you don't mind.]

This holiday season there has been much talk about the loss of the original meaning of Christmas. In some cases, this is due to an intentional and systematic campaign to remove Christian language from public discourse and Christian symbols from the public eye.

Drivers for perhaps the nation’s largest package delivery company have been instructed to refrain from wishing their customers a “Merry Christmas,” opting instead for the multi-culturally benign, “Happy Holidays.”

Schools now have “winter breaks,” offices throw “end of the year” parties, and communities erect “giving trees” or “community trees.” A Wichita newspaper published a retraction, apologizing for a reporter’s earlier faux pas in referring to the festive tree in the city park as a “Christmas tree.” (If any caroling is permitted at all these days, the refrain will surely be “O come let us ignore Him.”)

Anyone who knows me will guess correctly that I have made a special effort this particular year to bid a hearty “Merry Christmas!” worthy of a Bob Cratchet to merchants and fellow shoppers.

But, of course, it is not only the absurd dictates of the politically correct that threaten to eclipse the essential meaning of this joyous season. Long before our society began singing hymns to multiculturalism, the clamoring of merchants selling their wares has disturbed the peace of that Bethlehem night.

Just as the road to every place of significance—from national parks and natural wonders to Civil War battlefields—is lined with the mandatory tourist traps and souvenir shops, so is the way to the simple manger cluttered with signs boasting Significant Holiday Savings.

It is a shame when a family spends the balance of its “mountain vacation” playing miniature golf or shopping for trinkets in a Gatlinburg, or working slot machines in a Deadwood instead of taking in the splendors of the Smokies, the Black Hills or Rockies. But it is tragic when our “glad tidings of great joy” amount to little more than the news that the shallow hosts on the Shopping Channel are slashing the price on a tennis bracelet.

The original message is all too easily lost upon us with all of our secular hurryings of the season, not to mention the barking of the carnies lining our way. One can almost imagine the Wise Men, having been lured aside by early Judean entrepreneurs, never quite making it to the stable, but returning home with “I Saw the Baby Jesus” t-shirts.

I hope that our children will be able to catch some glimpse of the Incarnate God in spite of the distracting lights, bells, and sundry electronic sounds of this year’s must-have toy (the last one in stock, which you secured by a strategic off-tackle lunge, just ahead of the angry woman in the snowman sweatshirt).

So this year, more than ever before, I identify with that sage, Linus. Would it be so bad, after all, were we to interrupt the month-long infomercial that Christmas has become just long enough to read from Luke’s gospel? Might we break out of that detached, ironic posture that so characterizes a postmodern generation and gather as families to sing carols from the heart?

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.

These are glad tidings indeed. The swaddled child is none other than Immanuel—God with us. We celebrate what C. S. Lewis called “the great invasion of God into enemy-occupied territory.” The entrance of that child into the world was our Creator’s storming of the beaches, intent upon our liberation from tyranny.

As Lewis puts it elsewhere, “Aslan is on the move.”

In Aslan is the hope of Narnia. In this newborn King is the hope of the world.

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hutch866's picture
Submitted by hutch866 on Sun, 11/30/2008 - 9:54pm.

This Saturday, December 6th, 7PM at Harp's Crossing Baptist Church, the FCHS Wind Ensemble and Chorus will present the Fayette Festival of Carols. Beautiful music and song and well worth the short trip down 92S, all these kids are amazing and they put on a great show, hope to see you there.

I yam what I yam....Popeye

Submitted by wildcat on Sun, 11/30/2008 - 9:12pm.

An angelic little second grade girl (curly blond hair and blue eyes) memorized that passage from Luke and recited it to the patients at the hospice last December (I take my GS troop caroling each year). She brought tears to the eyes of everyone. We grumble and complain because we have to take up our very precious time during most busy time of the year to go and spread "Christmas cheer." But we do it. We find the time. We schedule it in. We rehearse. When we're done we feel as though we are floating. All is well in the world. Have you ever felt both happy and sad at the same time? It does as much for the parents as it does for the girls. It has become one of the things that I very much look forward to. That, and watching the sunrise on the solstice!

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