By this time in December, we have likely heard someone discuss the need for society to “keep Christ in Christmas.” The discussion is based on the idea that American society has forgotten the meaning of Christmas.
Those who believe Christ has been removed from Christmas point to several things in society. They claim being greeted with “Happy Holidays” is offensive. Some say it is an act of persecution when public officials call Christmas trees “Holiday” trees or when they remove Nativity scenes from public spaces. Others believe stores that decorate “too early” for Christmas are focusing too much on commercial needs and not on Christ.
To be honest none of that bothers me. It is not offensive to me as a Christian and a pastor if someone says “Happy Holidays” to me. I do not feel persecuted if a community decides to not put up a Nativity scene or call a Christmas tree a “Holiday” tree. I don’t believe a store is morally wrong for decorating early.
I’m not worried about how society views Christmas. I am concerned about how Christians are keeping Christ in Christmas. To me it is a different discussion and one we need to have.
For us to discuss keeping Christ in Christmas we must turn our attention away from the world and look within our own hearts and communities of faith. We must ask ourselves how we are keeping Christ in Christmas.
This asks us to go deep into the meaning of Christmas.
It is not enough to say we keep Christ in Christmas by placing a Nativity scene in our home. Keeping Christ in Christmas is more than having a few ornaments that depict Christ next to the ones illustrating Santa Claus. Attending a Christmas Eve service, as important as it is, does not necessarily mean you have experienced the season.
To keep Christ in Christmas means that what took place in Bethlehem impacts and informs how we live each day. Not just during the Advent and Christmas seasons, but every moment of our lives.
What took place at Christmas is not a cute story of a baby being born in a stable. It is the reality of how God gave the world the gift of the Son. At Christmas, Christ came into the world to call us to live in a deeper relationship with the Father. He came to be both our Savior and our Lord.
Keeping Christ in Christmas means we believe that Christmas is not simply a one-day event, but a reality that changes how we experience everything. Christmas moves us away from life as the world would guide us to a way that brings us back to the Father. This happens when we allow Christ to be incarnate in us. We live out Christmas when Christ truly lives in us and we allow the Lord to transform our entire being.
If we want to keep Christ in Christmas forces us to answer some very difficult questions. Are we more interested in the commercialization or the Living Christ within us? Is Christmas a one-day event or is it something that impacts how we live? Are we more interested in buying gifts than we are about receiving Christ?
If we are living out the reality of Christmas in our daily lives then we will not be worried about how society perceives this season. Why? It is because we will impact and transform society through our prayers, gifts, and service in the name of Christ.