THE REAL MEANING OF CHRISTMAS
NEVER A BETTER TIME THAN THIS TO
PAUSE AND REFLECT ON THE REAL
MEANING OF CHRISTMAS
Every day we are presented with such a bewildering
mélange of newsworthy or non-newsworthy events
on local, national and international scenes that we
might tend to get so involved with them that we miss
the really important event of this date. So let's set
them aside, knowing that they will still be waiting for
us next week, and let's focus our thoughts on the
message of the Advent season -- God's great gift to
In familiar words, we recall Luke 2:11, "For
unto you is born this day in the city of David, a
Savior, which is Christ the Lord."
This event, the most significant in all the history of
the world, was not something that Luke happened
to think up on his own. Centuries earlier the prophet
Isaiah wrote, "The people that walked in darkness
have seen a great light ...for unto us a child is
born, unto us a son is given, and the government
shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be
called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the
Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." (Isa. 9:2,6)
Through the years men and women -- authors, poets,
clergy, scholars, even skeptics and atheists -- have
offered their views of this event.
Those explanations range from the "Freedom from
Religion Foundation" comment: “At this season of
the Winter Solstice may reason prevail. There
are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or
hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is
but myth and superstition that hardens hearts
and enslaves minds.”
And those explanations extend to the American
Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy with
its definition: "A festival commemorating the birth
of Jesus, traditionally celebrated on December
25 by most Western Christian churches...Today,
Christmas is largely secularized and dominated by
gifts, decorated trees, and a jolly Santa Claus."
And there is the great confession by a thoroughly
converted Ebenezer Scrooge in Dickens' beloved
"A Christmas Carol" -- "I will honour Christmas
in my heart, and try to keep it all the year."
But a much lesser known, and more meaningful view
than most is this quote from a 20th century evangelist,
John R. Rice, one of our personal friends: "You can
never really experience Christmas until you can
look up into the Father's face and tell Him you
have received His Christmas gift."
Almost too late for this year, on the Internet we
stumbled upon a new organization whose words
of introduction are: "The story of Christ's birth is
a story of promise, hope, and a revolutionary
love. So, what happened? What was once a time
to celebrate the birth of a savior has somehow
turned into a season of stress, traffic jams, and
shopping lists. Is this what we really want out of
Christmas? What if Christmas became a world-
changing event again?"
Welcome to Advent Conspiracy -- whose goal is
to restore the true meaning of Christmas to our
busy lives.You can find it by clicking on this link;
it's free: www.adventconspiracy.org
Finally, not from a Founding Father, but from
our longtime friend for more than 50 years, Joan
Winmill Brown, "Christmas! The very word brings
joy to our hearts. No matter how we may dread
the rush, the long Christmas lists for gifts and
cards to be bought and given, when Christmas
Day comes there is still the same warm feeling
we had as children, the same warmth that enfolds
our hearts and our homes."
So, in the words of Tiny Tim in "A Christmas Carol"
-- "God bless us, everyone." This oft-cited
masterpiece of literature moves beyond the status of
a merely secular story and establishes the clear and
definite position that without Jesus Christ, the living
source of Christmas, there is nothing to celebrate.
This fact is made clear by Scrooge's cheerful and
optimistic nephew, Fred, in saying that nothing about
Christmas can be separated from "the veneration
due to its sacred name and origin." Scrooge
himself bears testimony to the lasting effect of
Christmas in his pledge to keep Christmas in his
heart all through the year. It can be said that if
Christmas could offer hope for someone like mean
old Scrooge, there is available hope for all, as Tim
put it so well: "God bless us, everyone."
Some Random Afterthoughts . . .
An important advance notice: Early in the new
year we plan to present a discussion on the term
"Evangelical" -- what is "Evangelicalism" . . . what
is an "Evangelical" . . who are today's "Evangelicals"
. . . and other aspects of this important element of
of the Christian faith.
The Inaugural prayer furor has resulted in an
unusual state of agreement among Conservatives
and Liberals. From the Liberal side, the supporters
of the homosexual agenda are angry, because Rick
Warren spoke favorably of California's Proposition
8 . . .. from the Conservative side, Christians are
angry that one who professes to be an Evangelical
would agree to appear with one about whom we
know so little, particularly about his religious beliefs.
But some Evangelicals have voiced support for
Warren.. One such leader even suggested that he
may be the next Billy Graham, and accused Graham
of not having addressed the "issues." To make such
a comparison is like comparing apples and oranges.
Billy Graham was never anything but an evangelist,
an evangelist to the whole world. The one "issue" he
always addressed was the need of individuals for a
Savior.. He would never conceive of abandoning the
preaching of the Gospel (evangelizing) and instead
focus on feeding the poor, and combating AIDS in
Africa, worthy as those activities may be. Those
are the natural outworkings of the Christian life, and
are the responsibility of every Christian believer.
The religious makeup of Congress, in case you
might be interested. And you probably should be.
In the Senate: Protestants 53; Catholics 26; Jewish
13; Mormons 5; Orthodox 1; Other faiths 1. Among
the Protestants, the major denominations include
Presbyterian 12; Methodist 10; Baptist 8; Anglican/
Episcopal 6; Lutheran 4; Congregational 4.
In the House: Protestants 291; Catholic 161;
Jewish 45; Mormon 14; Orthodox 7; Other faiths 2;
Buddhists 2; Muslim 2; Don't know 5. Among the
Protestants, the major denominations include
Baptist 58; Methodist 47; Anglican/Episcopal 32;
Presbyterian 31; Lutheran 20; Congregational 2.
There is something there for just about everyone.
Then there is the congressional pay raise --
with increasing thousands of Americans out of work
all the members of Congress are about to receive a
$4,700 annual pay raise. Hard to justify such a
reward for the Congress with the worst approval
record in history. And they're the ones who berated
the heads of the auto industry for flying in corporate
planes instead of driving across country to appear
at the hearings in Washington.
And the Global Warming hoax goes on -- even
Las Vegas has just had an unprecedented heavy
snow storm, and in much of the nation Winter
(with heavy snow) has arrived early -- but the
Al Gore aficionados see all this cold weather as
proof of "Global Warming." In support of their
claims, they cite the Associated Press report that
the 10 warmest years on record have occurred
since Bill Clinton's second inaugural ceremony.
But after discovering that NASA's James Hansen
(Al Gore's chief scientific aide) had been tweaking
the numbers, the AP was forced to correct that
erroneous data. For the record, the 10 warmest
years, in descending order, are: 1934, 1998, 1921,
2006, 1931, 1999, 1953, 1990, 1938 and 1939.
Meantime, the real scientists continue to label the
Gore theory the greatest hoax of the century. But
President-elect Obama has picked a strong Global
Warming exponent, John Holdren, as his chief
scientific advisor. So we may have to accept
"Global Warming" by presidential decree.
A Founding Father's year-round thought:
"Suppose a nation in some distant Region should
take the Bible for their only law Book, and every
member should regulate his conduct by the
precepts there exhibited! Every member would
be obliged in conscience, to temperance, frugality,
and industry; to justice, kindness, and charity
towards his fellow men; and to piety, love, and
reverence toward Almighty God ... What a Utopia,
what a Paradise would this region be."
-- John Adams, 2nd American President, 1798
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