So many reports this year of a “Merry Christmas War” between the factions of traditionalism on one hand and secularism on the other. On the gripping hand… Three years ago on another blog, I wrote the following.
Here’s a thought/shade of memory that’s almost always present whenever I say “Merry Christmas.” I can recall vividly the many times that I witnessed my maternal grandfather openly, extravagantly displaying the Christmas spirit—at all times of the year, in all kinds of places. Here’s a typical memory that surfaces or floats in the background whenever I say “Merry Christmas” to someone… and why it does.
Whenever I visited my maternal grandparents as a child or youth and the visit encompassed a Sunday, we went out to eat for Sunday “dinner” (lunch to much of the country :-)). Invariably, Dad-Dad would be the last to our table and the last out the door because he had to stop and chat briefly with every person he saw. The conversation, if it were with a stranger, would always at some point allow Dad-Dad (allow, nothing—he made it so! :-)) to bring up Jesus Christ, his Savior and Lord. Many of those conversations resulted in brief prayers and an exchange of contact information.
You see, Dad-Dad knew that the meaning and message of Christmas wasn’t some warm, fuzzy , nebulous “goodwill to men” that we share at a holiday time, or a time of sharing love with family and friends. No, the meaning of Christmas is the Incarnation and all that implies: sinful man, doomed to an eternity in hell; a loving God who became man in the form of a baby boy in order to redeem this sinful world by His life and propitiary death, and to provide victory and hope through His resurrection.
When I asked him one time why he always stopped to talk to so many people, many of whom he did not—before!—know, on the way to his table (or out the door), he told me that he didn’t want to be the one—missed!—opportunity that perhaps one person may have had to hear the gospel.
“Merry Christmas” is a prayer that God will bless the hearer with a saving knowledge of the life and work, the death, burial and resurrection, the daily presence of One who
” …being in the form of God, did not think being equal with God something to cling to, but made Himself of no reputation, became a servant, coming as a man, And as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross…”
That’s the message “Merry Christmas” holds for those who know Him: We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior. The Light of the World, the Hope of the Nations.
Peace, goodwill toward men.