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Christmas Is About . . .

Santa is still strong this time of year. So are Rudolph, Prancer, and the other reindeer. Frosty is good. I’ve even seen larger-than-life replicas of The Grinch of Whoville. But it seems increasingly difficult to find shepherds and angels. Where are the Wise Men? What became of Joseph and Mary? Does anyone else recall when Jesus was center stage during this holiday season?

Did I just say “holiday season”? Why, there’s another evidence of our loss. What used to be “Merry Christmas!” is now more often just “Happy Holidays!” A penchant for political correctness has taken us to the point that strangers to our culture would hardly guess there was once a religious motif to this time of year.

Several years ago, Dave Barry wrote: “To avoid offending anybody, the schools dropped religion altogether and started singing about the weather. At my son’s school, they now hold the winter program in February and sing increasingly non-memorable songs such as ‘Winter Wonderland,’ ‘Frosty the Snowman’ and — this is a real song — ‘Suzy Snowflake,’ all of which is pretty funny since we live in Miami. A visitor from another planet would assume that the children belonged to the Church of Meteorology.”

In trying not to offend her community, a music teacher in Bethel, Washington, replaced the word “Christmas” with “winter” in an elementary school concert. Although a few parents said they were offended by his action, school officials backed the teacher. Thus Christmas carols became holiday jingles.

You might simply glance over the selection of greeting cards in your favorite store. My guess is that you’ll find what I’ve noticed. Some stores don’t even stock cards with a religious theme — Star over Bethlehem, Madonna and child, Baby Jesus in a manger. Christmas has been sanitized. It has been stripped of its historic connection to Jesus Christ. It is a “secular” holiday.

There is no biblical commandment requiring Christians to celebrate Mothers Day, Thanksgiving, or Christmas. But Paul does lay down the principle that any holiday Christians elect to keep should be celebrated “in honor of the Lord” (Romans 14:5-6).

So I’m not suggesting that you tear down the secular trappings of the season. I’m not proposing that we mount a protest against how others use the next couple of weeks. If you do honor this holiday, however, do so with holy intent. Sing of Jesus. Read of Bethlehem. Tell the real Christmas story.

The root of Christmas lies deep in God’s love. Its fruit is borne by generous hearts, confessing lips, and surrendered lives during this holy time of year.

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