We need to take a new look at Labor Day out of respect for the hurt feelings of all who are unemployed on that day. No, we don’t! All non-Irish Americans are getting together to lobby for St Patrick’s Day to be changed to Shades of Green Celebration. No, they ain’t! Most Americans feel very offended by the name Halloween and are longing for when it will be called Fancy Dress Costume Night. No they’re not!
So, when chairman Robert Ulrich, of Target Stores, banned using the word "Christmas" in their in-store promotions and retail advertising and when two other large chains followed suite, my friend Bob got mad. He cut up his store card and mailed it to them. His letter said that since they’ve cancelled Christmas he wouldn’t need his card to buy from them this December. Bob’s career was in senior management for American Express. He knows what really hurts these stores.
Why does “happy holidays” or “season’s greetings” need to replace “merry Christmas?” It is part of the campaign to disengage the American nation from the anchors of its roots. A small, organized group wants to reinvent the country. Their ideal is to live in a non-religious, non-patriotic, volunteer-less state where government’s highest role is to keep citizens free of personal obligations and, if possible, equipped with plenty of money & time to play.
The steps are: 1950 to 1980 get Christ out of Christmas by making presents, Santas and eggnog the main emphasis. 1980 to 2010 get Christmas out of December by stressing holidays, parties and presents – yeah, the commercial aspect must stay!
I understand the “reformers.” Christmas is not a neutral season. You have to be dazed not to notice the Christmas Story. As soon as its events unfold, the tale of a Royal Child, here by supernatural birth, announced by angels and here for a redeeming purpose is thrust upon you.
How about the invasive nature of the Christmas Carols? Progressive reformers would rather give us songs about sleigh bells; ting-a-ling and sing to us about fires and chestnuts. From the pen of an anonymous writer, one of the most pointed (and also the longest) carols was published in the 1833 edition of Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern. The poet starts off with “A Child this day is born, A Child of high renown. Most worthy of a scepter, a scepter and a crown.” You can only write that of a peasant girl and a baby in a manger, if you believe He came from the throne of heaven.
The author is so New Testament when he outlines the mission of Bethlehem’s Babe: “That which the holy prophets spoke of long time before, that from the fall of Adam He should us all restore.” Christmas is offensive to some because it claims that humanity is fallen, perishing and in need of restoration. It gets “worse” in verse three: “This Child, both God and man, from Heaven down to us came, He is the King of all kings, and Jesus is His Name.” What, Jesus is now presented as having authority? Surely not authority over my life?
The song describes the Advent in twenty-one verses. By the end of a tale with shepherds an ox and a donkey, we are struck by the humble nature of the scene his poetry embraced. This is the arrival of a King? The song concludes: “Not sumptuously, but simply was this young King arrayed, A manger was the cradle where this young Babe was laid. No pride at all was found in this most holy Child, but He being void of all sin; the Lamb of God most mild.”
An offense to some, yet a blessing to millions: the Christ of Christmas. I believe God took upon Himself the full human experience to be what the Jewish temple lamb represented each year: a substitutionary payment for our sins. This is the real reason for a Merry Christmas!
Andrew Paton of Clinton Church of the Nazarene, born in Africa, has pastored in Hunterdon County since 1997. Before that he ministered in Durban and Bedfordview, South Africa and prior to that was an officer in The Salvation Army. He has been in full time Christian leadership since 1975. He and his wife Carol have two married sons and five grandchildren.
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