Merry Christmas … It’s Your Birthday, Jesus!
Jesus is the Reason for the Season. It hasn’t been all that long since this catchy saying found its way into the mainstream of American and global conscience, particularly with those who cherish the ultimate purpose to celebrate this remarkable time of the year. But why is it necessary to defend the honored time-tested tradition of keeping Christ as the very heart of Christmas; not only in what we believe, but nowadays even in what we say and how we say it?
What’s so wrong with Happy Holidays as the new standard salutation in a season that past generations have treasured for one reason and one reason only—the birth of Jesus Christ? What’s wrong is that the question itself is as rhetorical as any question can be. How can anything or anyone be so obvious? The very reason for such a season is, in fact, someone’s birthday. Not the birthday of an ordinary person like you or me. Not just a conspicuous person like a President, Prime Minister, Chancellor, King, or Queen. Nor esteemed scientific, social, economic, athletic, or film icons. And certainly not a religious figure like Mohammed or Buddha from man-made religions.
Not even a significant, momentous event such as the Jewish Maccabees amazing victory over the Seleucid Syrians in 167-166 BC, and the liberation of the 2nd Jewish Temple to include the equally astonishing eight-day burning of the Menorah candles with only one day’s supply of oil—which generated the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. Pronounced and spelled properly as Chanukah (hard “ch” sound), the actual date set aside by the Jews was the 25th day of the month of Kislev. Some even call or consider it as a Jewish Christmas, which it is not … just ask any Jew who knows anything about Chanukah at all. But as significant as this special day in Jewish history was and still is, it does not compare to the astounding event of Christ’s birth that has impacted billions of people from every nation, race, and language all over the world.
In fact, if you examine other religions you will find, for the most part, they are indigenous to race and geographic areas in the world, i.e. Islam mostly for Arabs in the Middle East, Buddhism for Orientals, Hinduism for India, Judaism for Jews. Not so with Christianity. It is truly global.
Historical figures, nations, and events other than Christ Jesus and Christmas have their own recognized anniversaries. Does anyone demand that observance of these special occasions be religiously generalized and socially or politically expanded to embrace other religious or national figures or events, so as not to be inclusive of just one person? So as not to offend those of other faiths or ideological persuasions?
Even an ordinary birthday or event merits the minimum consideration of that day belonging to an individual or a city or a nation and, therefore, acknowledged as such. What would you think if I refused to wish you a Happy Birthday because I didn’t want to offend someone else who wasn’t born on the same day, and who didn’t share the same enthusiasm for your birthday? Or who believed differently from you, or belonged to another race, or was left-handed? Ridiculous? Of course. It’s your special day. So Happy Birthday already! I mean that sincerely … unless it’s not your birthday!
Should we no longer acknowledge President’s Day in February, because so many other American presidents were not born in that month? Or because some think it’s unfair to give preferential treatment to a United States President over common citizens?
Should we stop reveling in America’s birthday on the 4th of July in deference to those whose native country originated on a different day of the year; or someone who is from a nation that has never been democratically free? Or anyone who might take offense that Americans believe their independence and heritage is something to be proud of, to celebrate the very day when freedom began?
Might we be more politically correct never to say Happy Thanksgiving? After all, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan is much closer to Thanksgiving than it is to Christmas. Shouldn’t it be: Happy Thanksramadan?!
Perhaps we should no longer wish someone a Happy Valentine’s Day in case they take an exception to anyone who has as Saint in front of their name? It is Saint Valentine isn’t it? Might we say, “Happy Heart Day” or “Merry Chocolate?”
Stay with me; you know what I’m saying. It isn’t whether we use the word happy or merry. It’s that word, Christmas that causes all the fuss. Shhh … not so loud.
More than that: it’s the name Christ that gets so many people all up tight. That’s right … all it takes is a mention of his name. That is, unless it’s used as profanity … no problem then. A person is compelled to say something meaningful when they hit their thumb with a hammer. Right?
Why? Because His name is who he is (Yeshua in Hebrew, Jesus in Greek/English, both mean Savior), and a lot of folks just can’t handle that. They don’t want or need a Savior. Certainly not one who claims that he is the Son of God, that he alone is “The Way, The Truth, and The Life” (John 14:6). How exclusively narrow-minded can anyone be? The fact that he was born of a Virgin, performed amazing miracles, and then arose from the dead to validate his claim as Messiah who alone can redeem, can forgive sin; is an affront to those who maintain that self-enabled good works and innate self-worth is the only way to God.
PC is the Password
It’s easy to see where we’re headed with this. No other holiday causes anything close to the angst experienced and consternation expressed by the secular among us or those of another religion who take offense at hearing the very name of Jesus or even a special representation of his name—Christmas. What relevance does the birth of a Savior (no man-made religions have a Savior … did you know that?) any longer have to the last holiday of the year? In fact, the very name of Christ and Christmas is an embarrassment to many. It’s just not politically correct.
So, for many PC folks out there, it’s not even Happy Holiday. Rather, it’s Happy Holidays. Plural, as in the first holiday is on par or a less than par lead-in to New Year’s celebration. According to those who dislike, even detest the name of Jesus Christ, or perhaps the less adamant who, nevertheless, don’t want to offend anyone else of a different religion, wouldn’t it be better just to omit any reference to Jesus Christ during Christmas? (Shhh … not so loud).
Do Muslims or non-Muslims whisper when they say Mohammed or Ramadan? Jews or non-Jews when they utter Moses or Hanukkah? Since whispering doesn’t fit with all the sights of Frosty the Snowman, smells of roasting chestnuts, and sounds of Jingle Bells, many simply change the real meaning of and reason for Christmas not necessarily by speaking softly and carrying a big peppermint stick. Rather, by replacing a simple but intensely meaningful, joyful, and hope-filled greeting with a ho-hum, humdrum, monotonous, “Happy Holidays.” We have no problem with Happy Valentine, but Merry Christmas creates real issues. (I know … not so loud).
Simple solution isn’t it: Just say Happy Holidays. And presto, no more infringement on all those who champion the cause of tolerance, of broad-mindedness, of acceptance. Oops … except for the Christians. But then, non-Christians have no obligation whatsoever to be tolerant of Christians. After all, aren’t Christians the most intolerant people ever to walk the face of the earth? They are so inconsiderate because they believe that Christ came to this earth to die for their sins, to save them from hell; that he arose from the dead to prove that he was telling the truth—that he is the majestic Son of God—that only he can bring light and peace to a dark and troubled world? That’s about as exclusively one-sided as you can get.
But no more narrow-minded than if someone discovered the one and only all-time cure for cancer, offered that cure to the whole world, then was shunned and rejected because that was the only cure offered. Both Scripture and human experience testifies to this fatal fact: Sin is a deadly cancer of the body, soul, and spirit?
Yet, the only way a tolerant person can be truly tolerant is to first be selectively intolerant of whoever or whatever they think is intolerant. Did you get that? If not, who can blame you? Because that is how intolerably unenlightened the logic is of those who contend (pretend) that tolerance should trump all other world views no matter that tolerance in the extreme leads only to intolerance. Meaning that if just one person or group of people disagrees with you; then for the sake of tolerance at all costs, you must make an exception and be intolerant of those dissenting views. If someone didn’t get that, then they’re not as tolerantly open-minded as they think.
What’s the use … I give up. I’m going to be PC and wish you a very Happ….
Wrong. Make that a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!
For you see
It occurs to me
That we can make something else
Of this thing called PC.
And, Happy New Year! No problem with that one, huh?
A Birthday for All Time, For All People
We’re talking about the greatest birthday ever known. A birth that changed the very keeping of time. A day remembered and adored by more people, by far, than any other anniversary ever recorded. An amazing arrival and appearance in which God, himself, came in human form as Immanuel … God with us.
A child whose birth was prophesied hundreds of years before … exactly how he would be born (of a Virgin), where he would be born (Bethlehem), when he would be born (before the 2nd Temple would be destroyed), and how and why he would die. A birth accompanied by a guiding star and glorious angels. A name given to the child that means salvation itself. A life full of tremendous teachings, marvelous miracles; but also of suffering unto death … a death that would pay for the penalty of all the wrong things we’ve done, and give eternal life to all those who believe and receive this God-man. Above all, a mighty resurrection and ascension to heaven, from whence he came. And more: A soon to be glorious return of the Son of God, the Son of David, and the Son of Man.
It’s a true story. How long has it been since you’ve heard it? How long since you’ve read the greatest story ever told? It begins with:
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, wanted to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins’ Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘Behold, the Virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel … God with us’” (Matthew 1:18-23, NASB, italics for emphasis).
Without Jesus, is there really any reason whatsoever to celebrate Christmas? Without Christ, what’s Christmas all about? Why bother to put Christmas lights on something once known as a Christmas tree? Why take the time to fight the crowds in order to do something as frustrating as Christmas shopping? Why on earth would anyone want to send greetings of good will and cheer on something as archaic as a Christmas card? Who is their right mind would be so cheeky as to sing irrelevant Christmas carols like Joy to the World, when Frosty the Snowman can accompany us all the way to our Holiday shopping spree and back. Who would take the time to wrap gifts for precious loved ones or sit around that Christmas tree and watch with love and joy while their children brimming with excitement open Christmas presents? Oh, many say, we can still do those things. And they would be right, but for all the wrong reasons. Because now it’s a holiday tree. Now we sing holiday songs. We give holiday gifts. We send holiday cards. We wish everyone Happy Holidays.
For that matter, what other religious figure is celebrated during the month of December, specifically December 25th? Do Muslims remember Mohammed or Jews revere Abraham or Moses during this time? Yet, strangely, people all over the world still give and receive gifts during Christmas time. Even atheists and agnostics! It’s the giving of gifts that most profoundly represents the essence of Christmas.
So, let me get this straight: It’s still (PC) appropriate to give and receive gifts, but don’t say Merry Christmas to the clerk who just wrapped the gifts you purchased for your children and your spouse. After the sale, be polite and wish her Happy Holidays; which is what she said to you after taking your money. And when opening the gifts under the Holiday tree, certainly don’t wish your child a Merry Christmas. He could get the wrong impression: that the gift opened might just represent and be in remembrance of the greatest gift of all time—God’s own son as a ransom for our redemption. We can still put up lights … preferably holiday lights. But no nativity scenes anywhere in public places. God forbid: Someone might be offended or get the wrong impression that this Holiday is truly holy… instead of just another holiday.
Sorry, did I say God forbid. How careless. You know what I meant to say: Would the man upstairs please overlook my outdated, irrelevant, presumptuous, intolerant notion that Christmas ever existed in the first place. Or if it did, it has no relevance whatsoever in today’s post-modern existential, expedient, politically correct society that tolerates anything and everything except one thing: The Name of Christ or anything or anyone that bears His name. Whatever is thought, said, or done: don’t say that name or anything that reminds the world who he is.
Why must Happy Holidays replace Merry Christmas? As indicated, the only other religious remembrance at this time of year is that of Hanukkah … with this year’s celebration beginning this past Tuesday, 12-16-14. So, why must everyone be politically correct and wish someone Happy Holidays? If I know a person is Jewish, then I’ll say Happy Hanukkah to them. If I don’t know or think they may not be Jewish, it’s Merry Christmas. If they are Jewish and say Happy Hanukkah, that’s fine with me. All is well! What’s the problem? No harm, no foul.
I happen to love Israel, love the Jewish people, and love the Jewish Savior who is Jewish through and through. But even if I didn’t, I have no problem with Happy Hanukkah. I do, however, have a problem with Happy Holidays. It’s more than just semantics. It’s a deliberate politically correct, socially expedient substitution for the very essence of my faith and the faith of millions of others who have trusted in what God’s Son did for us and the whole human race; starting with his miraculous birth (Christmas), culminating in his miraculous resurrection from the dead (Easter resurrection day).
For one thing, we have plenty of Happy Holidays throughout the year.
What’s so wrong with the one time of year that incorporates the very best of all those holidays into the most precious, powerful, and profitable sequence of events ever to hit the human race: The birth, life, death, and resurrection of Messiah Jesus.
Jesus is the Reason for Every Season!
New Year’s: An exciting time for all to contemplate a new start … to be better, to do better.
Jesus, himself, the giver of second chances, of a new beginning, a new life … everlasting. “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (II Corinthians 5:17). In the next to last chapter of the Bible, God said to John: “Look, I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:5).
Martin Luther King Day: A champion of racial equality, of equal opportunity for all.
In Christ, all are equal. There is absolutely no discrimination by Christ. Yes, his salvation is exclusive, because he is the only way to God and everlasting life (Acts 4:12). But he and his message are also unconditionally inclusive to ALL who believe and receive him. “For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26 & 28).
Valentine’s Day: Love makes the world go around. “Would you be my valentine?” we plead.
Concerning true everlasting love and life, we need only ask, “Jesus, would you be my Savior?”
God IS Love. “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
President’s Day: Recognition of the immense, lasting contributions made by two of America’s most prominent leaders, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
Jesus is the greatest trailblazer who ever lived; given to us as the perfect Christ-child. “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!” (Isaiah 9:6-7).
He also is: “Lord of all lords and King of all kings” (Revelation 17:14). One day he will return in power and great glory.
St Patrick’s Day: When all is said and done, we really don’t need the luck of the Irish, do we? How lucky have they been anyway? Nothing derogatory here … just asking. I like the Irish and I love their music. We don’t need to wish someone, “Good luck.” Does that really work? Besides, St. Patrick’s claim to fame was that he led thousands of pagans to belief in Christ; therefore, it’s difficult to explain how such a revered life could result in such a wild modern-day celebration! Nevertheless, it is a time of jubilation.
For those who have been redeemed by Christ, we have every reason to rejoice. We have a sure hope in the Bible and in Christ. “…And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled” (Romans 15:4).
Memorial Day: Brave men and woman fought and gave their lives to help us preserve freedom from tyranny and oppression.
Christ gave his life to free us from sin which produces tyranny and cruelty and all that is wrong with the human race. “The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit” (Romans 8:3-4).
And so we remember what Christ said and did: “He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.’ After supper he took another cup of wine and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you’” (Luke 22:19-20, italics for emphasis).
Independence Day (4th of July): A constitutional body founded on the profound principle of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We salute a flag that symbolizes a vibrant government of the people, by the people, and for the people. I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands. One nation indivisible, under God, with liberty and justice for all.
Even greater is the body of Christ, as Paul writes to the believers in Corinth: “The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit” (I Corinthians 12:12-13).
Christ has great power to change the world, one redeemed heart at a time. Listen to the Apostle Paul, “I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself” (Ephesians 1:19-23).
Labor Day: Each year we set aside this day to rest from our weary labor that provides for our families.
But Christ is our ultimate rest … a respite from the unnecessary struggle to gain salvation through good works. From the guilt of sin, from the uncertainty of death. “Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light’” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Armistice/Veterans Day: A great day when, at the time, the War to End All Wars ended. For a while there was peace on the earth. But mankind never could and never will be able to maintain peace on his own. History has proven that beyond any doubt.
Only Christ can bring such a peace. He authored the greatest treaty of all time: Reconciling man to God.
“That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.’ Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased’” (Luke 2:8-14).
Thanksgiving: The Pilgrims and founding fathers were immensely grateful to God for his providence and provisions in sustaining them through troubled times of testing and trials.
Without Christ’s willingness to come to this world he created, take on human form, and then die for the horrible things that everyone has done (some more than others but God doesn’t grade on a curve), we all would be helpless and hopeless.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, NASB, italics for emphasis).
Christmas: Ah, yes … Christmas. Not just a holiday. A true Holy Day.
And don’t forget Easter. For those who place their trust in Christ, that day represents the first day of the rest of their lives … life that goes on and on and on, ad infinitum. Unless Christ rose from the dead, there would be no hope of our resurrection from the grave. And a Merry Christmas—any kind of Christmas—would have no meaning at all.
Mother’s Day. Father’s Day. Pick a holiday … any other holiday not listed here. And you’ll find that Jesus can also be the reason for that season.
Things to Ponder
The word holiday is a secularized derivative of Holy Day. It’s true: Holy means set apart for a special purpose. But it also carries the distinct connotation of something Divine or Sacred. The 4th of July is a great holiday, but it’s not sacred as such. Not like Christmas. That is until the 20th and 21st century. For many, Christmas is just another holiday.
Santa Claus was the original (first) politically correct substitute for the real deal, Jesus Christ. But even Santa Claus believes in Christmas! “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”
Think about it, and lighten up!
“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).
“But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved….” (Joel 2:32).
Now is the time for salvation. We all have a choice: Meet Christ now as Savior, or later as Judge.
What say you about Christ?