Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Yuletide cheer! Blessings to you and yours!
These words hold meaning for many this time of year. It is a season when people intentionally act nicer. Some smile more than they normally would. I have personally noticed that some folks are down right purposeful in being happy this Christmas season. Indeed, these gestures are certainly welcome when they substitute the regular snarls, rudeness, and sarcasm that are typical of our daily interactions with others. Of course, for those who are doing last minute Christmas shopping, your experiences may be a whole other world entirely. Nevertheless, this season generally fosters charity toward others in more ways than one.
I am not normally an avid fan of the entire Christmas season, but surely would not consider myself a scrooge either. If I were to take a position on the "CHRIST" in Christmas debate, or speak on the apparent materialism of the entire holiday it would surely be one of indifference. I think it is a liberty to enjoy this time of year with family and loved ones, and should be cherished amidst the rat race we call life. It is the one time of year that the entire country slows to a crawl for one single day, regardless of faith preference. Although this time of year has been designated a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ I have witnessed it be practiced as anything but. I then would venture to beg the question here, and ask just what kind of significance does the birth of Christ really have on your celebration of Christmas this year?
In consideration of the change of 'heart' we witness in people this holiday season, and the more than obvious inference of Christ's birthday at the center of our reason for celebration (despite what the secularists aim to turn it into) I would propose that we re-evaluate our own perspectives in light of how we actually carry out our own celebrations. I say this not because I care to impose my personal practice on others, but that I am either hyper-aware or overly-critical of those of us who name Christ as Lord doing so out of one side of our mouths and still be being consumed with gift-giving and receiving out of the other.
If I am not making much sense with my comments or allegations, let me try to reel it in here. Two weeks ago my mother was complaining of ongoing back pain and having a hard time breathing. I had been observing a digression of her 'normal' health over a period of time and became very concerned. She finally resolved to pay a visit to the emergency room and I rushed home from fellowship to take her. After many hours in the emergency room they had brought us results of an x-ray that had been done. The preliminary findings revealed a mass in her chest and lungs.
At this point, I will admit that there are so many days in my life that tribulation does not touch. I feel there are many of us out there who can relate to this. When asked by friends, family, or brothers and sisters in faith how do I consistently stand on my faith in Christ, I typically respond to them to come and visit me when I am facing trials, tribulations, or persecution. Then I will tell you how it is I am remaining confident in my Lord's will. This is a true test of faith my friends. My mother being diagnosed with a small cell cancer in the lungs is not good news for Christmas. So do we consider this a gift or a curse?
I am not sure at this point. I now know much more than mere sympathy for those who suffer disease, endure family deaths, or are laid up in hospitals without family this time of year. I think I am experiencing a bout of true empathy at this point. You see, for this man, there is a boy inside who will forever see his mother as a superhero. A woman who filled the role of mother, and father. Nurturer and provider. A woman who in my perspective, and through the eyes of a child, will always be immortal. My mother is supposed to live forever isn't she? I know this is unrealistic, but I think its a hurdle we all face when dealing with the inevitable death of our parents.
So how about the inevitable death of us all? We too may get caught up in the world of immortality, and forget that we are dust. We shall return there someday, regardless of our faith, and inevitably face the Judge of all the earth. For my mother, I pray she finds the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that we can see these kinds of trials with a lens that focuses in on the truth of an eternity in Heaven, or Hell. We must know this season is not about nativity's, blinking lights, or wonderfully wrapped presents from the department store. I implore all of us to consider that we may trample on the 'reason for the season' when we reserve the debate of Christ in our culture for the month of December.
To close, if I make any sense at all, I want to point out the fact that our time here as believers is becoming ready for death. We too are to prepare others for death as well. It is not pessimism to remind others they are going to die, and that in order to live they will need to embrace and receive Christ as LORD! This is realism, this is compassion, and this is truly knowing the terror of the Lord. We know, therefore we must share. So when you say or consider debating Merry Christmas, or X-mas, or Happy Holiday, or whichever greeting you employ, remember it is not about symantics, it is about Christ. When you say Merry Christmas, do you mean "I hope you know the Lord Jesus Christ," or "Do you know the Lord was born to die for you and for me," or is it just a formality with no cannotation of Christ whatsoever?
I hope that Christmas is not the only time we Christians are determined to know Christ and Him crucified amidst a lost and dying generation. Most importantly, I pray that we are even more determined to face this reality with those we love when gripped with their impending death, and as we realize ours may come sooner or later, we to must be not only ready to die ourselves, but preparing others to do so as well.