Merry Christmas! Tis the season to consider all that has passed and reflect on the birth of Jesus. The darkest period of the year sees the gift from God of his only son sent down to us to brace for and look to the new year. Celebrating the birth of Christ in Advent prepares Christians for the coming season of celebration of his death and resurrection in the spring–the proper spiritual group act of sacrifice and rebirth.
Did you attend mass last night? Did you go to a midnight mass? Did you attend a traditional mass and hear the words in Latin? Are you a C+E Christian, attending mass on Christmas and Easter? Maybe you are, and maybe you can rest assured that an omnipotent God can hear you just as loud from your home as he can from a church.
It is not just about Christ, God, and worship. It is about the people in those pews next to you. You, the layman, are part of a community that your church pulls in from the surrounding area. This is the same community that attends those church fundraising events and social gatherings. These are the people who clap and cheer when your child is baptized or testify about the power of the Lord. It’s the promise of new life, of renewal within the community. You attend not just for Him, but for them. In an increasingly secular and darkening world, you need one another to remind each other that you are not alone.
“He is the reason for the season,” chirp evangelicals I know, whenever someone refers to Jesus in December. The phrase is not a positive sign because a reminder of that message is a sign that the underlying idea has been forgotten. It’s reminiscent of communities that run public relations campaigns or slap slogans on their “Welcome” signs referring to their towns as hard working, proud, etc.
Once they have to state those qualities on a sign or in a television advertisement, the town no longer exemplifies them. Having to say that Jesus is the reason for the season reveals an underlying anxiety that the secular world has usurped the holiday.
This is not new. Dickens’ classic “Christmas Carol” was a protest of sorts of the commercialization of Christmas. In America’s beloved animated tale “A Charlie Brown Christmas“, the characters lament capitalism ruining Christmas. Lucy whispers to Charlie that Christmas is a racket run by an “Eastern syndicate”. The character Linus states from the Gospel of Luke what Christmas is really all about for classmates, as well as the viewers at home. Even animated children wrestle with this desire to remember and focus on the religious holiday.
We give into this secularization, though, in our media consumption. Christmas musical classics are often secular songs, not traditional hymns. With any film at our fingertips, people rewatch secular comedies, animated Santa tales, or “my family is so crazy” comedies. Few if any watch the religious “The Greatest Story Ever Told“. It is a quiet, unspoken submission to the dominant worldview. The power is progressivism; capitalism will gladly crank out progressive friendly, seasonal media junk food.
Christmas is important to remember because it is the foundation of the West. The blend of the religious both of Christ and pagan Western traditions are still with us when we put up a Christmas tree and place a crèche underneath it. In this darker age, it is up to us to not just attend on Christmas, but to participate in our community throughout the year. Simply speaking up to defend the faith in the sea of secularism is powerful.
Be a lighthouse.
How a gathering changes when a Christian (calmly and sternly) says to the jokester atheist, “No blasphemy in front of the children.” The snarky progressive backs off, and the quiet Christians sit up straighter.
Our opponents believe in the latest fad and whip around like leaves in the wind. It is up to us to confront them and carry the faith. Be a lighthouse. Help the ships out in that rough secular sea find a safe way home.