Last night we were watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, which today is still my favorite cartoon to watch! It is amazing to me that back in 1965, when this first aired, how much materialism that Charlie Brown saw amongst everyone during the Christmas season. It was so pervasive that if you remember, even the Christmas trees he picked out did not meet the standard. What is shocking to me, 49 years later, the same spirit of consumerism prevails. I wonder though, what the cartoon would be like if it was re-done today??
My favorite part has always been Linus’ citation of what the real meaning of Christmas is.
So we know where Linus stands…what do you think Christmas is all about? I am sure by the title of this Thought for the Day, you probably have an inkling to what direction this will be going in, but I pray that though you may know what the answer is, that the Holy Spirit will make the truth penetrate your heart…And that this Christmas season will be more meaningful than it ever has been in the past.
Hypothetically speaking…if an alien just landed on Earth and saw the yuletide craziness in Wal-Mart, or constant the barrage of an advertising through TV, emails and old fashion mailings, what do you think they would believe that Christmas is all about? I think definitely about shopping, a fat man in a red suit, and about putting trees in your house and decorating them.
It is not too hard to get lost in the “stuff that needs to get done,” and fulfilling “wish lists,” but if we are not careful, we can easily get one-off track. Christmas should not be about getting stuff. There needs to be an intensive effort on our part to combat against the “get me this bug,” and try to reverse the impact of the heavy marketing that is confusing the meaning of Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I want my children to enjoy all the fun things of the season, but at the same time I don’t want the true meaning of Christmas to be lost on my daughters. Take a look at this cartoon, I think it makes Charlie Brown’s point well!
“I hate to ask you nice folks to move, but the inn’s marketing department figures that it will only be a matter of time before this tree gets better recognition than your son”
So how about it? What do you think, is it Christmas or X-mas? Does it matter? Do you see a difference between the two? For many years I didn’t. In fact I still have storage totes with “X-mas” written on them. Have you ever wondered where X-mas came from? I mean how did that evolve to be an abbreviation for Christmas?
Well the word “Christmas“ means the “Mass of Christ.” It was later shortened to “Christ-Mass.” Then further shortened during the 1500’s in Europe to “X-mas” which is derived from the Greek alphabet, in which X is the first letter of Christ’s name: “Xristos,” therefore “X-Mass”. That is how X-mas is a derivative for Christmas. But in today’s culture and how the term is used, I believe there is a big difference between the two words. X-mas is no longer a short version of Christmas but a replacement. You don’t have to look far, to see how modern-day consumerism and marketers have completely “X”-ed Christ out of Christmas.
Christmas is now a franchise, a holiday that is marketed in a million different ways, none of which have to do with Jesus. Just take notice of all the printed advertising and commercials that are on TV this time of year. There is very little mention of Jesus if any. We have removed the part of the holiday that is the true “reason for the season”. And all that we are left with is whatever products store owner’s can convince us that we need to have.
Christmas is not about getting stuff but about Jesus. It is the Birthday of Jesus, the day that God was manifested into flesh and blood. It is about a King. Not a King that rode into battle to conquer his enemies but a King who laid down His crown, humbling Himself to become a man. In doing so, He surrendered His majesty and position and sacrificed Himself for us. So the answer to the question “what is Christmas all about”, well it is about SACRIFICE and HUMILITY! You don’t really consider that when you think about Christmas, but when you look at what had to happen in order for Jesus to open the gates of heaven for us, it is crystal clear that the baby in the manger was born to be the sacrificial lamb to die as the payment for our sins once and for all. W.J. Cameron once said that,
“There has been only one Christmas – the rest are anniversaries.”
I love that! Jesus became human and then gave up His life for us so that we could gain eternal life. He had to lose His life so we could keep ours! Through His Sacrifice, out past, present and future sins are forgiven! And we are Redeemed! Redemption, what an awesome word. It is defined as
“The act of delivering from sin or saving from evil” or “Purchasing back something previously sold.”
We have been delivered through His death on the cross. The greatest gift will not be delivered by the man in the red suit, the best gift is Jesus! Jesus paid the ransom, paid the price for our sins to save us from the evil one so that the lost could be found, the sick…healed, the broken…repaired and the captives set free. Because Jesus came into the enemy’s territory (by coming to Earth), we are redeemed and reconnected to our Father in Heaven. We are the children of God as it says in Galatians 4:6-7:
“Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
Christmas is about the sacrifice of Jesus and the redemption that resulted from His selfless act. And through it all we have become heirs to the riches of heaven.
You know, there is nothing wrong with all the holiday preparations, but we need to keep in focus what we are celebrating on December 25! Our Biblical or Christian Worldview needs a little fine-tuning. Like everyone else, I have a long list of things-to-do associated with the Yuletide season, from decorating to getting a Christmas tree to shopping for gifts. There are many things to plan for and to pull you in different directions and to distract you…BUT I love how Henri Nouwen defined Christmas…he said that
“Songs, good feelings, beautiful liturgies, nice presents, big dinners, and sweet words do not make Christmas. Christmas is saying yes to something beyond all emotions and feelings. Christmas is saying yes to a hope based on God’s initiative, which has nothing to do with what I think or feel. Christmas is believing that the salvation of the world is God’s work and not mine.”
Christmas is my favorite holiday. Not only for the significance of Jesus’ birth but also for the other stuff as well. I love all the holiday preparations and the warm fuzzy feeling you get during this time of year. But as we just read, Christmas is much more than that. We need to check ourselves and where our biblical worldview is, not only in regards to this one day but also for the other 364 days a year. So the proper biblical worldview of Christmas is all about Sacrifice and Humility! Philippians 2:5-7 says that:
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”
Christmas is a time to remember the birth of Jesus and the coming of God’s salvation for His people. Jesus was born and walked on this Earth to show us the way to heaven through His example.
“He became what we are that He might make us what He is.” Saint Athanasius
Verse 8 of chapter 2 of Philippians finishes this though with:
“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!”
So I want to challenge you to really understand the Reason for the Season, and not allow consumerism to “X” Christ out of Christmas. Follow Jesus’ example, and be a servant to your “fellow man.” Look for ways to impact the people around you…family members, co-workers, friends or even strangers. Serve food to the homeless or buy a present for a child who will have nothing under the tree this year or be a shoulder to cry on for a depressed friend.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
Don’t let season passed by without letting it penetrate your heart! Be Jesus for the people who are around you. Be the miracle in their life.