This is how Jesus Christ was born. A young woman named Mary was engaged to Joseph from King David's family. But before they were married, she learned that she was going to have a baby by God's Holy Spirit. Joseph was a good man and did not want to embarrass Mary in front of everyone. So he decided to quietly call off the wedding.
While Joseph was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord came to him in a dream. The angel said, "Joseph, the baby that Mary will have is from the Holy Spirit. Go ahead and marry her. Then after her baby is born, name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:18-21 CEV)
Well, here it is Christmas again, and this year it falls on a Sunday. I have been following with great interest the battle that rages among the media liberal and conservatives as to the promotion of Christmas as a "holiday" or an actual "Christmas" event.
Should we promote Santa Claus and be politically and socially sensitive to the feelings of all, or should we promote Christ and offend numerous people who don't believe in him? After all, 3% of Americans don't celebrate Christmas, so the rest of us, all 97% of us, ought to be willing to take Christ out of the picture and accommodate our sensitive culture. After all, we certainly don't want to offend anyone, do we?
It was fifteen years ago this month that I preached a Christmas sermon and actually talked about Bethlehem and the manger, then paid the price for doing so. I was told emphatically that folks in our church heritage don't believe that December 25 was the day Jesus was born and it wasn't proper to preach sermons that promote things we don't believe! I suppose I was naïve, but I thought preaching Christ at all seasons was proper! This is the only time of the year that people actually spend time thinking about God, even if it is the God of the Manger.
I told my friends fifteen years ago that a time would come when the word Christmas would be stripped from our vocabulary and our children would no longer hold this time as sacred as in days gone by, but it would become just another holiday and the only thing important to them would be the presents under the tree, rather that the Present we all received in a Manger! Has that time arrived, and have I become a prophet? You decide, as you consider the new words to "Silent Night" as presented at the Ridgeway Elementary School in Dodgeville, Wisconsin. The school's "Winter Program" features, to the tune of "Silent Night." a new secularized version whose lyrics go something like this:
Cold in the night, no one in sight;
Winter winds whirl and bite.
How I wish I were happy and warm,
Safe with my family out of the storm.
But anyway, Merry Christmas one and all!