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The Quest for the Christmas Story
Pastor Joe Giacometti ©2002

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" word!

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 to experience.

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.