Does anyone else get bugged by this, or is it just me? Christmas is an international holiday, isn't it? So why are we so afraid that celebrating it in a traditional way will offend someone? Every year we hear about some store that won't put up Merry Christmas signs anymore. Their employees have to say "Happy Holidays" or "Seasons Greetings" to customers instead of Merry Christmas. They (whoever "they" are) are so afraid that someone will be offended if they know we're actually celebrating *shhh!* Christmas!
Now, I'm not into deliberately offending people. But as I move about this Christmas season I see a lot of people observing--well, they're observing some sort of holiday right now! They've put up lights. The stores are jammed with people shopping for presents. They're going to seasonal music concerts and putting on plays and cantatas. So if they're not celebrating Christmas, what are they celebrating?
Beyond my rant, here's what I really think. I think--in this country at least--we have a very loud minority. Someone who doesn't believe in Jesus is offended that we do. And now everyone is worried that more than one person will be offended.
Why do I think it's a minority? I can look around me and see how many people are celebrating the holiday. It's definitely a majority. Granted, many of them do not understand the true meaning of the season, but they still celebrate it. They just think a fat man in a red suit is at the center of the holiday. Of course, since being overweight is almost becoming a crime, I expect Santa's image to be made over within the next few years. People will be leaving tofu snacks and soy milk for him by the fireplace. And he'll probably have a tan from hanging out in the Caribbean during his off season. But hey, I think I'll save my thoughts on Santa for another post.
The thing is, people are hungry and searching for something. And this is a wonderful time of year to introduce people to Jesus. Most people want to know something about Him. How do I know? Well, there's a church not far from here that does a "Journey through Christmas" every year. It's kind of a living Nativity, but it goes all the way through Jesus' death, burial and resurrection. They provide live Christmas music, singing and instruments, and skits and puppet shows to the people lined up waiting to be taken through the tour. The end of the tour is at a room with a replica of an empty tomb. The pastor of the church takes about ten minutes to give a clear presentation of the Gospel of why Jesus came.
Journey Through Christmas drew about 1500 people last year during its three day run. This year, they had 1500 people show up the first night. Their street was so backed up with traffic, they had to call in extra police officers to deal with the excess. They had over 150 people make a profession of faith that night. Through their three-night run, they had over 6000 people come through. Over 600 of them accepted Christ as their Saviour. People are hungry. They want to know the truth.
I have nothing against the phrases "Happy Holidays" or "Seasons Greetings". I just always considered them part of Christmas tradition. But now I find myself exclusively using the phrase "Merry Christmas". It's not so trite to say that Jesus IS the reason for the season. And I refuse to be ashamed of the fact that He is in the forefront of our lives. Christmas is the perfect time of year to bring up why He came, and we can't let a few people shame us out of this wonderful God-given opportunity to share Christ with others.
So MERRY CHRISTMAS, everyone! Give someone the gift of Jesus this year!