I recently came across a cartoon that illustrated the dissimilar feelings and expressions that people have about Christmas. It portrayed two homes decorated for Christmas. One home had lights everywhere, complete with a plastic snowman in the yard, a Santa on the roof, and a flashing sign in the front yard that said, “Merry Xmas!"
The other home had only a simple manger scene in the yard. The couple from the first house were looking out their window at the manger scene in their neighbor’s yard and said: “Some people have to put religion into everything!” Sadly, this cartoon illustrates the great divide and ignorance people have over the meaning of Christmas.
We recently moved to the town of Simcoe in southern Ontario. And, in case you didn't know, Ontario is not known as a bastion of conservative Christian values. But this past weekend, I was pleasantly surprised. The town of Simcoe had a festival of lights; and this was no ordinary seasonal light show. Much to my delight, and to hundreds of others that were there, the entire downtown park featured many displays depicting the real meaning of Christmas. I have posted just a couple photos below for you to see.
I was so encouraged that the town of Simcoe had the fortitude to reflect the real meaning of Christmas, especially at a time when so many other towns and cities have caved-in to political correctness. Our nation needs towns like Simcoe because so many are ignorant of the true meaning of Christmas. Sometimes I feel like Charlie Brown when he said, "Isn't
there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?"
Unfortunately, many people will celebrate this season without ever worshiping Jesus –the one Christmas is all about. With schedules full of parties and functions to attend, with all the jostling at malls and frenzied searches for the perfect gift, the real meaning of Christmas can be easily missed.
After many hours of looking at rows of toys and everything else imaginable; and after hours of hearing both her children asking for everything they saw on the shelves, a mother finally made it to the elevator with her two kids. She was feeling what so many of us feel during the holiday season – extreme tiredness from all the shopping, overwhelming pressure to get to every party, exhaustion from trying to get that perfect gift for everyone and not to forget anyone on our list.
Finally, the doors opened to the crowed elevator. She pushed her way into the car and dragged her two kids in with her along with all her shopping bags. When the doors closed, she couldn't contain her frustration anymore and she blurted out, "Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up, and shot. “From the back of the elevator, everyone heard a quiet, calm voice respond, "Don't worry lady, they have already crucified Him.”
It seems implausible to us who know the Christmas story, that others would see this season as nothing more than just another holiday. But the blazing pace of secularization has hit us all like an inexorable juggernaut. Many pugnaciously and legislatively try to eradicate any mention of God or Christianity in the public square. Politically correct warriors have taken Christmas into their sights and they seem bent on stripping Jesus of his rightful place in the season.
One radio talk show recently had a spoof on how our society has overreacted to Christ being a part of Christmas, and so in the spirit of inclusivism, not wanting to offend anyone, they came up with an inclusive term for the season. They combined the holidays of Ramadan, Hanukkah, Kwanza and Christmas, and wished everyone a happy RamaHanuKwanzMas to the tune of “Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas.”
Not wanting to offend anyone is now the guiding standard everyone is encouraged to embrace. But there are exceptions to who can be offended and who is to be embraced. It seems just fine, even encouraged in some circles, to offend Christ and his followers with complete impunity.
And now, even some "Christians" not wanting to be on the receiving end of any invectives themselves are getting offended over Jesus too, even to the point of not showcasing the nativity! Two years ago, a Roman Catholic priest in Italy decided to remove a nativity scene in order to avoid offending Muslims. He said.”, “A crib positioned within sight of them could be seen as a lack of respect for followers of other faiths, hurt the sensibilities of Muslims, Indians and even atheists. In short, it would be a mess”.
Fr. Sante Braggie’s predecessor, Fr. Oreste Mori, was incredulous. “Seriously? I can’t believe it,” Mori said. “We cannot renounce our culture and traditions. That would be an unpardonable weakness.” A local lawmaker, Cristina Cappellini, was among the town councillors who urged Braggie to reinstate the nativity scene as a symbol “of our culture, of our traditions, of our Christian identity”. Even a politician weighed in in the matter. Peter Burgazzi, secretary of the Lega Nord regional political party, said: "I would like to emphasise the importance of the crib as a sign of Christian witness."
Fr. Sante should have seen the Nativity as a symbol of the birth of the Prince of Peace and of a faith followed by more than a billion people. Or even as a “welcome” sign to those who might be in need of Christ’s saving work. Instead, his actions reflected those of expedience and compromise.
People like Fr. Sante are driven by an irrational fear of giving offence. And while some may applaud such fear as "multi-cultural sensitivity" or "accommodation"– it only masks the real problem – a spineless cave-in to political correctness. Do you ever wonder if Jesus had these people in mind when he said, "If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels (Luke 9:26)?"
This year, in stark contrast, and without even addressing the so-called "war on Christmas," Pope Francis called on believers to erect Nativity scenes as a sign of the Christian faith by placing them in schools, workplaces and town squares. Francis made the remarks in the Italian hill town of Greccio, where St. Francis of Assisi, the pontiff's namesake, re-enacted the first Nativity scene, using live people instead of statues.
The whole point of the nativity was that God came down to our world, in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus came so that you might have a relationship with him. That's what the Good News or the gospel is all about. Ann Voskamp weighs in on the importance of that relationship:
So God throws open the door of this world—and enters as a baby. As the most vulnerable imaginable. Because He wants unimaginable intimacy with you. What religion ever had a god that wanted such intimacy with us that He came with such vulnerability to us? What God ever came so tender we could touch Him? So fragile that we could break Him? So vulnerable that His bare, beating heart could be hurt? Only the One who loves you to death.
Jesus came so that we might have a relationship with him. If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent an educator. If our greatest need was for technology, God would have sent a scientist. If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent an economist. But, because we are all alienated from God because of our sins, we needed forgiveness and redemption. That's why God sent us a Savior! Matt. 1:21 says, "She [Mary] will give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
We all need Jesus to be our Saviour. This Christmas open you heart and home to the Saviour. G. K. Chesterton once said, “Christmas is built upon a beautiful and intentional paradox; that the birth of the homeless should be celebrated in every home.”
I hope you will celebrate the birth of Christ and the meaning of Christmas in your home this season. Don't shut him out of your heart or home.
Have a blessed Christmas!
 Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas
 G.K. Chesterton, Brave New Family: G.K. Chesterton on Men and Women, Children, Sex, Divorce, Marriage and the Family