As I was driving home from work recently I noticed a house with a very impressive lighting display for the holiday season. As I turned in front of the house, I could see that this family was really making a statement with their Christmas spirit.
They had lighted trees, cartoon characters in fine display, and of course Santa Claus with his elves and reindeer were featured prominently throughout the lighting theme. Then in the back I finally saw what I was hoping to find: a nativity scene.
As I came closer to the display, I noticed Joseph and Mary, the animals, and several other prominent figures. However, I looked and looked and to my surprise and dismay the figure of baby Jesus was nowhere to be found. I gazed longingly at the pile of hay, but not even a manger was there. As I drove away puzzled by the missing Jesus, I began to think about Christmas and what it means to me.
Later that night my mind drifted back to this subject and I thought about how we observe Christmas in America today compared to how it used to be.
I can remember when I was young almost every major Christmas display you saw was dominated by the nativity scene and many of them were prominently displayed in the public square for everyone to enjoy. Sadly, this is not the case in most of America today.
Those who want to remove God from public view and expression have been chipping away year after year at our founding principles and heritage in an effort to turn America into another Godless culture of humanism which is so evident today in many European countries.
So what is Christmas becoming in America? It seems to be all about the commercial exploitation of what was once all about God and His incredible love for humanity when He sent His Son to do for us what we could never do for ourselves.
Today, Christmas seems to be a whole lot more about Santa Claus than it is about Jesus; at least this is the only theme that seems to be acceptable in public places. I wonder what this is teaching our children? Almost every TV program produced for the holiday season is about Santa Claus or some aspect of his character and almost never about the true reason for the season.
The public schools have all evicted God to the point that our children can no longer sing a simple Christmas carol that has real truth and meaning to it.
Then there is the constant pressure and enticement to spend, and spend some more! What do you want for Christmas? Don't worry about how much it will cost; you can always catch up on the bills next year, maybe! Go ahead do what so many others are doing, put Christmas on your credit card. Enjoy the season while you can because it will soon be over and remember it's all about the gifts … right?
And don't bother to place an offering in the plate at church as you may need it to feed all the guests you are planning to have over for a little Christmas cheer! Oh, and be careful about wishing someone a Merry Christmas; to be “politically correct” you should say happy holidays instead; that way you won't risk making anyone feel uncomfortable by making a reference to Christ.
Hey, remember to wrap all the presents in grant fashion and don't be cheap. If you do not want your kids to be teased at school, then don't forget to get them what every kid wants to impress their friends.
And, by the way, it's OK if you get a little stressed; that's expected; it's the Holidays! The whirlwind of activity will soon be over and you can recuperate in January, maybe! When the season passes, you can look back and wonder again if there is a more sane way to celebrate the birth of Christ. Then you can ask your kids why they no longer want to go to church with you. Could it be because they no longer see God as relevant in America so why should they want to worship Him?
He is not found in the schools; He has been removed from the public square and replaced by Santa Claus and the Easter bunny. The only time they hear His name mentioned might be during an occasional prayer before a meal, perhaps at Thanksgiving. They never see mom or dad reading their Bible or praying together. What on earth are we teaching our kids?
If you have kids, I can guarantee you that they will learn almost nothing about God in America through any public institution except for the local church. That places the total burden of teaching them about God squarely on the shoulders of their parents, and if kids cannot find God in the home, they are not likely to be looking for Him in the local church. What example are we setting for our kids?
Many will say our expressions of God should be kept in the home and the church and not displayed in public where, God forbid, someone might possibly be offended.
So then — as our most sacred holidays are becoming more and more about fantasy, celebration, and getting what we want — we should each ask ourselves if God can be found in the time we take to observe the most important event in all of human history; the day when God became a man so that He could offer His life on our behalf, and in turn give each one of us the opportunity to experience a restored personal relationship with our creator.
Even though I am saddened by the lack of public display of our Christian heritage in America today, I can say with great assurance that Jesus is welcome in my heart and in my home during this most wonderful holiday season. I hope and pray that He will also be welcomed by many of you as well. May your Christmas always reflect the reality of God's amazing grace!