I love Christmas.
Of course, being a Christian I do love most of all what it means in that context. I love a rousing Merry Christmas and all it entails more than a generic Happy Holidays. The coming of Christ is truly the most startling and amazing thing in all of human history. As a demonstration of a loving God, there is no parallel; as a demonstration of an almighty God, it shows an astounding power for a transcendent God, a God beyond time and space, to be able to drop into humanity at a chosen time and place.
There’s no doubt that all I love about Christmas comes from this connection of course.
There would be no Christmas without Christ and no reason to celebrate anything let alone this time of year, without His salvation.
But as a pastor, I have a confession.
And Santa, and the Grinch, or at least his little puppy. And little Cindy Lou Hoo, too. Every year I think Linus’s exposition on Christmas is one of the best sermons I hear all Christmas Season.
I love the way other people love Christmas. I know it’s shallow and without substance for some, but not for all and even so, I love the totally irrational, depthless way people decide to be nice to each other on Christmas. Sure I wish that we’d be nice to each other all year for the sake of Christ, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying the one time a year certain normally nasty people become nicer.
Scrooge’s nephew Fred says it this way:
I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come around—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time; a kind, forgiving charitable pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.
I love Christmas Carol by Dickens.
I love Christmas Carols too. I love songs about the cold cold snow much better than I like living in it! I love the way people are singing praises to our Lord without even knowing it. People in grocery stores, on the radio. Big name stars singing worship music because it’s Christmas. Granted sometimes it’s surreal or even a little uncomfortable, but I can’t help but cheer at the way God glorifies Himself even among those who are hostile.
I love Christmas movies, and Christmas cookies. I love the way Starbucks will sell you the same cookie they had a week ago, but now it looks like a polar bear.
I love those polar bears we see on the coke commercials this time of year too.
I love the way coke tries to corner the market on peace and harmony every year at this time too.
I love it because coke is so obviously unable to provide something which equally obviously is so greatly desired by so many. People are in effect reminded that to find peace and harmony they must go somewhere else.
Such desperate attempts to find replacement reasons for the season may strike us as shallow or even sad, but it should remind us that people desire the same things!
I love it all because while Evangelicals worry that Christmas is losing it’s meaning, the average American is desperately trying to remember what the meaning was. They look for it in family, and music, and gifts, and special shows, special music, specialness. They look for it not because they are shallow but because they are not. They look in shallow places only because they don’t know where else to look.
The rest of the year we have to remind people that good exists. We have to convince them that things which are not empirical and material may still be of value. Things like love, and good will, and faith, and hope. Things they readily run to at Christmas.
I love it because all the seeming distractions actually are nothing of the sort. The desperate attempts to celebrate something other than Christ, only serve to remind us how fundamental the Lord is For this once a year, people are free to remember that some things go beyond scientific proof. Santa Claus or Rudolph, an irrational desire to be good or nice, the pretense that food is without calories for one month of the year. All this really reminds those of us who know the truth that what we know is good. We remember again that the one we know is good. We remember again that what they want we have, and what they seek we can freely reveal. We remember that we are not mean or arrogant or controlling to want to teach them the truth of the Gospel. And for a brief window, we may find them actually willing to think about God as a baby in a manger.
I love Christmas because hiding behind every shallow attempt at Merry is one who was born of Mary.