When December comes you can’t help but enter a mall or department store and take a look inside. They got lots of glittering things that make their merchandise look more appealing and attuned to the Season. Why do we find ourselves more prone to buy at Christmas time? Because some smart aleck said that Christmas is a time for giving gifts. And I’m sure that aleck was a big businessman. And a smarter aleck said Christmas was Jesus’ birthday and all Christians should celebrate Christmas. But I don’t know how to reconcile my Jesus with a worldly Christmas.
Then the unthinking churches followed suit. They re-echoed the smart alecks and confirmed that, yes, Christmas was Jesus’ birthday and being so we had to give each other gifts. And these churches even bought Christmas lights (how do you connect the lights to Jesus? The star from the east?) and Christmas trees and little reindeers and Santa Clauses they hanged on the trees. The church gave their share in spreading a paganistic worldly Christmas which persists to this day.
So you find Jesus believers also joining in the Christmas rush and preparing for their church Christmas service and fellowship where they exchange gifts and forget all animosities and grievances they nurtured through the year and find inspiration to “forgive” each other because it’s Christmas. It’s surprising how the worldly Christmas can make people forget their egos and forgive offenses done against them. What they call the spirit of Christmas.
But the worldly Christmas is far from how the birth of Jesus actually happened. You’d see little glittering lights and colorful shiny decors surround the manger scene and a smiling baby boy in a comfy-looking manger in clean and good-smelling surroundings and farm animals. And the malls or stores they’re displayed in have centralized air-conditioning and sweet air scents. Then the miniature Joseph and Mary look so relaxed and happy and no trace of stress or uncertainty mark their visages, the deadly threat from Herod gone. It’s like they lived happily ever after. No wonder the celebration of Christmas is always full of merry-making and food and laughter and all sorts of fun.
And it’s a Christmas that reflects some other event, not Jesus’ birth. It’s probably the birth of the anti-Christ, not my Jesus. Because my Jesus was born in a smelly and dirty and messy manger where animals were fed and where they defecated, amid the mad threats of Herod and the rejection of all Jerusalem. Joseph worried about having Mary as wife and Mary was almost divorced by Joseph.
Glittering, twinkling lights? I can imagine the manger in total darkness but for a slight shimmer of light from a small lamp perhaps. Little drummer boy? Where? I don’t remember any. And Christmas tree? I don’t know if there were pine trees then in Bethlehem, but I don’t think Joseph and Mary had time to decorate one and hang plastic apples and socks and stars and mistletoes on it and put an angel on top. And there ought to be no 3 wise men there because the Word says they visited the boy in a house, not a baby in a manger. And who says there were 3 wise men? The worldly Christmas is not the commemoration of my Jesus’ birth. And nowhere in Scriptures are we commanded to celebrate the birth of Jesus. His death, yes.
And yet “Christian” churches spend thousands each year to celebrate an event we cannot link to Jesus except for a “Christ” in the word Christmas. And some of them somehow connect Jesus with Santa Claus—I remember one church having a Santa Claus Committee in charge of fund raising for gifts-giving to church members and the poor. Wow! They can do all things through Christmas which strengthens them!
December and December 25 is just like any month and day, respectively. It’s not a special day for giving gifts or forgiving offenses done to you. Give gifts anytime you like and forgive offenses always. Okay, you may find yourself in the middle of the celebration—that’s tolerable—but don’t be an avid participant, especially in how the worldly Christmas is celebrated. God so hates idolatry.