As I made my way through the streets of New York this December, I was excited for the opportunity to see the lights of the city during this most cherished season. I had mentally planned my itinerary before I arrived to be sure to see the Christmas tree at Rockefeller center, the windows of Macy’s, and the string of other high-end stores on 5th avenue. So you can imagine how my heart felt as I gazed upon gingerbread men, Santas, snow flakes and Menoras. The more I searched, the more my heart fell. Not a trace of a nativity scene in site. One got the sense that the nativity didn’t exist. And in a way, in the City, it does not. If you have lived or done business in New York, you can understand what I mean.
As I made my way up and down 5th avenue in the freezing wind, bundled in layers and with my Starbucks tucked under my chin, I happened upon windows with dragons, eastern religious symbols, decorations of silvers, greens, and reds, but no real signs of Christmas. I found my heart aching to bring these people the good news. Like the angels brought to the Shepherds on that cold and lonely night. How could I get the message of the gospel to these people? I felt their loneliness and the despair that the season can bring to those that have no hope.
Soon, I could sense that calm fatherly voice from above in His wisdom saying, “Stephanie, you don’t have to save these people. I already did. It’s just a matter of them receiving my gift.” Interesting thought. Since this is the ultimate season of giving. Isn’t it ironic? A myriad of frantic humanity will scurry and search this month for just the right present. Yet they will not know that the perfect gift is being held out to them-just within reach. The ultimate gift. Christ’s salvation, waiting for them at every turn. Yet, no sign in the City during Christmas.
Is there a sign of Christmas in your town this winter? Or do you feel that your neighborhood is working to stamp out the Christ in Christmas? Do you see signs of hope? Or are you frustrated when you see stores calling Christmas trees a Holiday Tree, or when local governments make the sighting of a Mary, Joseph, and the baby a civil offense? Take heart, my friend. As my walk through the Mecca of materialism reminded me, “All is Well.” Really. Let me explain.
The naysayers and the godless can not and will not kill Christmas. How do I know? Well, because Christmas has managed to survive tyrants and dynasties for more 2000 years. And none has been successful. There have been and always will be Christmas TV specials. Like the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, where Linus quotes chapter 2 from the book of Luke. I don’t recall ever seeing a Hanukah special. Recording artists will continue to put out Christmas albums. I haven’t seen a celebrity push a Kwanza CD – yet. Stores will always have Christmas sales of some type. They might not get it quite right, but they’ll have it. Christmas tree farms will continue to plant, cut and ship. Santa suits will continue to fly out of the doors of rental houses, and churches will continue to have choirs and orchestras sing Christmas carols while children stroll down aisles in bathrobes with tinsel halos. No, they can not and will not do away with Christmas. It is here to stay. I do not think we will see its demise in the days before His return.
But let me suggest this: Christmas is a gift to us. A gift that we should remember is something that is fragile and should be handled with care. It is becoming truly more secular every day. If we choose to stand by and allow the culture to determine how we celebrate this most joyous of holidays, we must take responsibility and be held accountable. If we choose to no longer make the effort to create and support presentations of Handel’s Messiah, that will be our doing. If the Christmas tree lights no longer shine in our subdivisions, it will be our choice. If friends and neighbors who enter our homes do not find a trace of the child born in Bethlehem, no will be to blame but ourselves.
I personally have made a commitment this year to have a nativity scene in every room of my home. And too, I decided to entertain guests as much as possible so that they can see that I stand for the Christ in Christmas. I want to do my part to show the true meaning and spread the good news. I hope you will join me. (If you are reading this after the holiday, you could get a nativity set for a great discount for next year at the closeout sales!)
It’s the least we can do. It’s the one gift we can give back to Him during this utmost season of giving.
Read Luke 2 this week, won’t you? And Merry Christmas my friend.