for the Christmas Story
I was simply looking for the Christmas story.
No, not "'twas the night before Christmas and all through the
house…" but rather the CHRISTmas story. Doesn't seem
too unreasonable, does it? I didn't think so either. Instead, what
I found was a dreadful sign of the times. Evidence that our society
has less trouble with swears on prime time TV, less trouble talking
about divorce and adultery like it's supposed to happen, less trouble
discussing "unmentionables" like abortion, rape and homosexuality
than they do with the new sudden "unmentionable," Jesus!
Christ! God! Religion! CHRISTIANITY! Wait, don't say the "C"
I had recently been put in control of the 5:00
Christmas Eve Family service while in my new role as Youth Pastor.
It was a large, yet simple task. I really didn't even have to preach.
I was simply going to just call the young kids up, and read through
a picture book of the Christmas story with them. Thus began my quest.
I started in a small, yet decently stocked Christian
bookstore in our area. The only Christian bookstore in our area.
Of course there was an area with several children's books of the
Christmas story, but none seemed to really please me. The most straightforward
one was illustrated in some creative, "not simple enough"
way for me. So, I pressed onward. I decided to hit the major mega
bookstores in our area. Surely they would have some books for me
in the children's sections. I was disheartened at what I was about
I began at the bigger and more recently built
of the two. They will both remain nameless, as I'm sure you won't
have any trouble coming up with the names on your own. They've probably
already shot through your head. I moved back towards the children's
section and found a huge display of children's Christmas books greeting.
I began to get excited as I approached, thinking, "Oh, look
at this! I can't wait to see how many I'll have to choose from!
As I approached, I began to skim over some titles and pictures to
guide me towards my treasure.
"Santa, elves, North Pole, Santa, presents,
Hanukah, Santa, Mrs. Clause, Christmas tree, Santa, Hanukah, menorah,
Santa, stocking, Kwanzaa!"
Kwanzaa? I had only heard about Kwanzaa myself
two years ago. What about Jesus? What about Bethlehem? The Star?
The Wise Men? The Bible? The reason Christmas has been celebrated
for 2000 years? Certainly near the Hanukah and Kwanzaa books there
would be something about Jesus. Christ, after all, is the first
half of the word Christmas! (Did I mention, Santa, above?)
I was eagerly on my way to the gold mine of
Christmas books, and all I found was coal! There were maybe two
Christian based Christmas books on all twenty feet of that holiday
display. Of course, we don't want to be discriminative. We don't
want to leave out the Jews and… well… excuse my ignorance,
but who celebrates Kwanzaa! We might get sued! We might be called
prejudice! But take the meaning out of CHRISTmas, well, sure! We
can do that! That's no big deal.
On to my next mega bookstore. Same drill. Went
to the back, saw the children's books, looked at the Christmas display,
not too much with Jesus in a manger jumping out at me. After some
further searching in this store, I did find tucked away somewhere
some books worthy of the cause, and even ended up buying the one
I used for the service there.
What has gone wrong with this world, or maybe
even just this country, a country that was established on the principles
of God and the Bible, that I can't even find a simple book on why
we celebrate Christmas in the first place? The fact of the matter
is most kids grow up celebrating "Santamas" rather than
Christmas. And of the religions that were represented, my question
is how did Christianity get so easily overlooked? Perhaps too many
people associate Santa with Christianity? The think the Christian
Christmas is Santa bringing presents. Not that the idea or original
principle of Santa, or St. Nicholas is so bad, it's just that it's
not the idea. With my blood pumping and my head shaking I proceeded
through my errands dismayed at what I had just been through.
What was your Christmas like? What was it like
for your friends? Was the focus on Santa and presents? Or God's
gift of Jesus Christ for all to have? How many of us asked for Jesus
for Christmas? How many of us actually received him? Maybe it's
easy for me, because it's my Job, but I thank God every day that
it's not just my Job. It's who I am! It's what I want to do whether
I'm getting paid for it or not (I could be getting paid A LOT more
doing something else). And it's a gift that NEEDS to be shared and
kept alive with every friend, relative, enemy, and person who walks
into the children's section of a bookstore at Christmas time.
I don't know if anybody else noticed something
like this happening, or if it's just because I live in the Northeast
outside of the "Bible belt" or what. But maybe we can
think of this story as a motivator, as a charge to be a bigger voice
around our community for what we stand for and why we believe these
things. Maybe we can just use this as a story of a man who felt
dejected at the neglect by society of his God. In any case, we can
take this with us beyond Christmas, and in to the New Year. Let's
put God back in the world. Put the Christ back in CHRISTmas, everywhere
you go, every day of the year.