Monday, December 21, 2009

The Reason for the Season

I wrote this for our church newsletter that went out last week.

I’m sure we’ve probably all heard the saying that “Jesus is the reason for the season.” It’s a nice sentiment I guess, but sometimes I wonder what’s behind it. Lately I think some Christians have been getting a little defensive over what has been happening to “our” holiday.

I don’t see it a lot anymore but I remember when I was younger people got upset over the use of Xmas and the popular saying was “Put Christ back in Christmas.” (Actually X is the first letter of Christ in Greek but the people using Xmas probably didn’t know that.) More recently there has been a backlash over what people call “political correctness” and Christian people get upset over the use of “Happy Holidays” and “Season’s Greetings” in place of “Merry Christmas.”

I certainly wish people a Merry Christmas at this time of year but I don’t get upset if someone wishes me Happy Holidays or Season’s Greetings. And there are some people, perhaps relatively few but some, who celebrate other holidays during this season or who might have no celebrations at all.

I don’t feel threatened. So far there’s no law that says I can’t put up a Christmas tree in my home and call it a Christmas tree. Nothing says I can’t come to church on Christmas Eve to celebrate the birth of Christ, my Saviour and Lord. If the schools shy away from an overt observance of Christ’s birth there’s nothing stopping me from teaching my children the true message and reason for the season.

And speaking of the reason for the season as my title says, what is the reason for the season? As I said at the outset, the saying goes that Jesus is the reason for the season but is that really the case? I once caught my children off guard when I suggested that Christmas is really all about presents. They tried to argue with me, giving the expected Sunday School or Children’s Chat answer that Christmas is really about the birth of Jesus.

I couldn’t really fault them. Their answer was correct. But I think I was right too. Christmas is all about presents. What is the greatest gift that we’ve been given? It’s the life and salvation we have in Jesus Christ. God loved this mixed up and messed up world so much that he gave his only Son, “so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” Christmas is about the greatest gift.

And the reason for the season is US. God sent his Son for YOU and for ME. But not only for us who call ourselves Christians. Jesus came for the ones who replace Christ with an X. Jesus came for the ones who celebrate Hanukkah. Jesus came for the ones who celebrate Kwanzaa instead of or in addition to Christmas. Jesus came for the ones being politically correct by wishing you Happy Holidays or Season’s Greetings.

Jesus came and showed us the love of God. So, this Christmas season, rather than becoming angry or defensive when someone wishes us Happy Holidays let us show love to our neighbours. Let us be open and invite family, friends, neighbours, and even strangers to know the love of Jesus that came down as the greatest gift of all.

May your Holidays be Happy, your Greetings Seasoned, and most of all your Christmas be Merry.

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