Saturday, December 30, 2006

Keeping Christ in Christmas?

I got to read a Christmas letter from a childhood pastor, now retired, which he sent to my mother when I went to visit her yesterday. It was really sad for me. He is a pastor who never, to my recollection, taught or proclaimed the gospel to me. His letter seemed to fit that. It had no sort of Christmas greeting and almost no religious content. The best he could muster was an expression of hope for the new year with the politicians changed out to his preferred party. He hoped that it would be a better year for the world. That was his hope for the future. Life on earth would get better and it would come through human effort and change. How wrong of him not to focus on the fact that our hope should only be placed on God and the new life to come that He secured for us through the innocent life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I hold no hope for things to get better in this world. They will be indescribably better in the world to come. It won't happen by human effort but is an assured thing based on God's promise.

While on that 2-day trip to my mother's I saw a few yard signs in that town that read "Keep Christ in Christmas." That struck me as odd. Christ is already long gone from Christmas. Maybe you could put Him back, but that doesn't seem likely for a world that thinks it has no use for Him. Maybe it is better to put Christ somewhere else besides Christmas. He gets associated with all the sentimentality of the holiday season when put in Christmas. Perhaps we should bring back Epiphany which was the Eastern Orthodox Church's original date for Christmas. It used to be that congregations had a special worship service on Epiphany. Now it is often transported to the Sunday following. Folks don't even remember on what day Epiphany occurs. Epiphany: the mysteriously incarnate Lord of the universe comes to all people in addition to the Jews. The light has dawned upon a people who were lost in darkness.

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