Happy Holidays?

I was disturbed a few days ago when I found an article by a Christian writer suggesting that he sees nothing wrong with Christmas being replaced by a simple holiday greeting.

Maybe I’m a minority now, but I still firmly believe the whole point of this “holiday” is the arrival of Jesus. Christmas.

The holidays in December are celebrated far too soon. It’s something that disrespects the Christian Faith, and removing “Christmas” to be replaced with a secular term adds a secular emphasis to that. I firmly believe there should be a separation of church and state. I grew up in England, where the monarch is the “leader” of the Church of England, represented by the Archbishop of Canterbury, but who plays no visibly active role in church affairs. The two are in effect separate entities – as it should be.

But the holidays are a different matter. The very word “holiday” has it’s roots ind the title of a “holy day” or a day set apart because of God. The secular world has no grasp of this. I have friends in America who have no problem with Thanksgiving but will not refer to a Christmas Holiday. They had no answer when I asked them exactly who the Pilgrims were thankful to for their safe arrival on America’s shores. Somehow the remembrance that it was a day set apart to remember what God had done has been lost in a secular mist.

Here in South Africa the Christmas music started in the stores in mid October, and store managers were amazed when I asked them why. The society here is very different to that of a First-World democracy. It is highly multi-cultural and many religions are kept by the people here. Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, and Christians all live alongside atheists and pagans quite happily, but there is a massive discrepancy in the way the different religious beliefs are represented commercially. Muslims celebrate Eid. The store manager was horrified when I suggested he play Islamic music and put up signs about Eid promotions two months before the day itself. He quietly explained to me that Christmas was “different”.

And it is.

Christmas is different because Christianity has an enemy who seeks to de-value the Truth of the Gospel. Christmas is different because he can completely remove the reason for the holiday and make us think it’s about flying reindeer and a fat man in a red suit instead of the arrival of God Himself in human form.

Christmas needs us as Christians to claim it back from the World. Especially in the developed world, Christians themselves get caught up in the commercial aspect of the season and don’t think about the spiritual meaning except on Christmas Day itself. Advent could and should be a time for us as Christians to reflect on the true purpose of Christmas. I’ve heard so many Christmas sermons that focus on the nativity and miss the point of it completely. In fact, since I became a Christian in 1985, I’ve heard just two Christmas Day sermons mention that the point of Christmas is Easter.

The point of the Holiday of Christmas is to remember the birth of God for the Salvation of mankind, not so we could cut down a tree and stick tinsel on it. If we did that at any other time of year people would think we were crazy – and they’d be right. So if it’s commercially nuts to put up a tree and tinsel in August, why is it not in December? What does a pine tree have to do with Jesus anyway?

This may sound like something of a rant, and I guess it is, but as Christians we often confuse “meekness” and “weakness.” We turn the other cheek so often that the world slaps us silly. If Muslims, Jews, Hindus and the other religions refuse to allow their religious milestones to be trivialized each year, why do we as Christians put up with it?

Jesus was meek, but He certainly wasn’t weak. I would love to see someone have the nerve to cast someone with the build of a first-century carpenter in the role of Jesus in a movie. Carpenters then built houses. They would have muscle on them, and physical strength. Fishermen like Peter would also have been physically strong men.

They stood up to the establishment. They took on the secular and religious people of the day. They weren’t concerned about appearing foolish, being imprisoned for standing up for their beliefs or even being killed for them.

So why do we allow a secular world to take away the name of one of our most sacred days? Why do we sit quietly by and allow secularism to chip away all references to the one true God in the very societies that were built on it?

Western Christians don’t rock the boat. We sit quietly. Perhaps it’s time we followed Peter’s example and step out of the boat into the storm and walk to Jesus, trusting His power to let us be untouched by the wind and the waves of this world.

So stand fast and wish a Happy Christmas to store clerks who insist on “holidays.”

And remember the point of the Manger is the Cross!