Published December 29, 2015

Paul's Epistle
"Christmas Ramblings..."

Today, a few random ramblings inspired, in retrospect, by Christmas...

A few years ago, we began having our family Christmas celebration a week or two before December 25th. Yes, that includes gift-giving. What we've found is that, with all the pressure of gift-giving removed, we can much better anticipate and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas when it actually gets here. I would highly recommend it.

Every Christmas there are those who say we should not celebrate Christmas. They say it was originally a pagan holiday, the date of which was simply appropriated by Christians for celebration. They say December 25th probably wasn't the actual birth date of Jesus, anyway.*

Know what? All of those things are most likely true. But what does it matter? Plain and simple, it doesn't really matter one bit. (See Romans 14:5.)

The good news is that because of the Christmas celebration, there is more public awareness of Christ and His coming to earth than at any other time of the year – all around the world! How can this be a bad thing? I read a blog the other day by a Messianic Jew who said she, herself, had come to Christ because of what she heard at Christmastime – 40 years ago!

Consider this: In amongst all of the secular Christmas music on the radio this season, there is still more God-honoring music on the air than at any other time of the year. Because of Christmas carols, there is more Gospel proclaimed in the shopping malls – played over loudspeakers and even sung by choirs – than at any other time of the year. And there is more Gospel proclaimed in such settings than, sadly, has been preached from some pulpits for a long time.

That reminds me of a poll conducted some years ago, asking pastors if they believe in the virgin birth of Christ. Here are the percentages of those who actually said "no:" American Lutherans, 19 percent; American Baptists, 34 percent; Episcopalians, 44 percent; Presbyterians, 49 percent; Methodists, 60 percent. If these pastors don't even believe such a fundamental tenet of the Christian faith, is it any wonder that those who sit under their teaching are so confused, so dismissive of the Bible as God's ultimate truth?

The true Gospel even reaches some newspaper editorial pages at Christmastime. I saw an editorial-page cartoon the other day by Gary Varvel depicting the Bethlehem stable where Christ was born, illuminated by a brilliant star above. The caption was simply this: "The world needs a Stable influence." Amen and amen!  Only the Prince of Peace can provide that.

Syndicated columnist Cal Thomas had a wonderful Christmas column this year, and, as succinctly as anyone could, summed up the reason for Christmas: "God took on the form of a human to die in our place, paying for our sins, so that humans who receive Him might be forgiven and be with Him forever." But he also made this salient point: "Like a gift under a tree, however, the transaction is not complete until the one for whom the gift is intended receives it. If anyone refuses a gift, the transaction is incomplete, its purpose thwarted."

As it turns out, these are all examples of what I said above: "Because of the Christmas celebration, there is more public awareness of Christ and His coming to earth than at any other time of the year."

And for that, we can all be exceedingly thankful. How could this aspect of our Christmas celebration not be pleasing to God?

- Paul

* The Bible is silent on the date of Jesus' birth, giving only clues which seem to point to other times of the year.

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