(originally written circa 1997)
This time of year, everyone gets caught up in the hustle and bustle of the “Holiday Season.” People flock to the malls and crowd like cattle through stores, having already given up on finding the “perfect” gift, now just hoping to find something that won’t be returned.
For some, this time of year is just an extended celebration of the end of the year, culminating in a joyous “ringing in” of the new year. A time to celebrate survival of another year, looking forward to new beginnings in the year to come.
For others, it is a time of “Yuletide Spirit”, “Season’s Greetings”, Santa Claus, and winter wonderland. Strings of lights decorate houses and yards. Evergreen trees occupy the place of importance in family rooms, with presents for all beneath.
Yet, in all of the scurrying around, parties, and celebrations, I note a disturbing absence of the One for whom the holiday is named. Even the season’s greeting, “Merry Christmas”, is being forsaken in favor of more secular phrases, such as “Merry Xmas”, “Happy Holidays”, and “Season’s Greetings”.
Pause for a moment and reflect upon the fact that nearly two thousand years ago, a child was born who would change the face of history. When the Supreme Court allows us to, we still gather at the manger to behold the miracle of the child born to a virgin. Most people are even willing to call this child the Son of God.
Unfortunately, the child will not stay in the manger. When he grows up, he becomes a stumbling block who offends all who meet him. To the religious people of the day He declares, “Your rituals and ceremonies for reaching God are useless. God wants repentant hearts and changed lives” (May the church today take note). To those who are broken by their sin, he offers forgiveness, restoration and life. And to those who will not come, he promises certain judgment. Small wonder the world did not accept Him then. Small wonder the world does not accept Him now.
You see, it is not the miraculous birth of the child in the manger which makes this season worth celebration. If the child stays in the manger, his birth is ultimately no more important than any other. It is only when YOU allow him to come out of the manger and into your life that you can truly understand why the angels broke forth with joy, saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will to men.”
Jesus IS the reason for the season.