If you only tune into the Hallmark Channel this time of you just might believe they have the ultimate definition of Christmas. With over twenty new TV Christmas movies this year it has been a Hallmark bonanza at our house. It is amazing to realize that when you have discovered the plot to one Hallmark Christmas Movie you have in essence discovered them all! If you go one step further you might come to believe, according to Hallmark, CBS, NBC, ABC and a host of other media outlets, that the real meaning of Christmas is “the spirit of love, the magic of Christmas, and Christmas miracles.”
While many people will passively acknowledge that the historical figure of Jesus has something to do with Christmas it is hardly mentioned or referenced. I had the privilege of being a child in the 1950’s. I can clearly remember that Christmas focused on Jesus, the shepherds, the angels, and of course, the Wise Men. Churches were clear in their message that the reason for the season is Jesus. Even the T.V. specials and programs never blushed when they mentioned Jesus’ birth and the shepherds on the hillside. Today most children in America are growing up without a clue as to whom this Jesus truly is.
I would like to take a moment to clearly define the real meaning and purpose of Christmas. The Gospel of John is extremely clear as to what this holiday is all about. John tells us in 3:16-17 the factual basis for Christmas.
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
While Santa, elfs, reindeer, mistletoe, holly, Christmas trees, ornaments, and gift giving have dominated Christmas they are not the point nor the purpose of Christmas! There would be no Christmas if not for God sending his son Jesus into this world so that you and I could be saved from sin, death and the power of the devil.
Early in our marriage, when the boys were very young, Jan used to give them presents that said: “Merry Christmas Santa.” One Christmas, without fully realizing it, she discovered that she had labeled four gifts with a slight error. Her gifts were inscribed, “ Merry Christmas, Satan!” Isn’t it interesting that Santa and Satan continue the exact same letters? We both got the message and put Jesus fully back in Christmas.
In our case we decided to throw out all our secular ornaments and replaced them with Biblical Christian ornaments. When a member of our church saw the tree she asked why we had done that? We told her the story of the mistake of writing Satan for Santa. She was not interested in our explanation and was ready to defend Santa. After a few moments of bantering back and forth I finally said, “When is your son Jimmy’s Birthday?” She told me that it was January. Then I said, “Next month on his birthday how frustrated would you and Jimmy be if you labeled his gifts and talked about “Biffy” rather than “Jimmy?”
It took her a few years of contemplating our discussion before she said, “You upset me when you removed Santa from Christmas. It then dawned on me how quick I was to push aside Jesus from Christmas and replace him with the cute things.” From that day forward she had a different view of Christmas and it’s real meaning.
Now hear me clearly! I am not asking you to toss out Santa, unless you come under the same conviction we did. I’m not suggesting you only have Christian ornaments. My challenge to you is simple. Would your children, grandchildren and neighbors have any clue as to the real meaning of Christmas from what you display and talk about? Are you making every attempt to put Jesus front and center in your Christmas celebration?
While this may at first seem trivial we must think about the kind of emphasis and priority we are putting on the greatest story ever told. Permit me to summarize Christmas’ real meaning. The real meaning of Christmas is Jesus Christ, born a human baby who grew up to be the savior of the Universe. Without Jesus, Christmas has no meaning!