Santa is prominent this time of year. So are Rudolph, Prancer, and the other reindeer. Frosty is big. I've even seen larger-than-life replicas of The Grinch of Whoville. But, it seems increasingly difficult to find shepherds and angels. Where are the Wise Men? What became of Joseph and Mary? Does anyone else recall when Jesus was center stage during this holiday season?

Did I just say "holiday season"? Why, there's another evidence of our loss. What used to be "Merry Christmas!" is now more often just "Happy Holidays!" A penchant for political correctness has taken us to the point that strangers to our culture would hardly guess there was once a religious celebration during this time of year.

It was years ago now that columnist Dave Barry wrote: "To avoid offending anybody, the schools dropped religion altogether and started singing about the weather. At my son's school, they now hold the winter program in February and sing increasingly non-memorable songs such as 'Winter Wonderland,' 'Frosty the Snowman' and — this is a real song — 'Suzy Snowflake,' all of which is pretty funny since we live in Miami. A visitor from another planet would assume that the children belonged to the Church of Meteorology."

In trying not to offend, a music teacher in Bethel, Washington, replaced the word "Christmas" with "winter" in an elementary school concert four years back. Although a few parents were offended by his action, school officials backed the teacher. Thus Christmas carols became holiday jingles.

You might simply glance over the selection of greeting cards in your favorite store. My guess is that you'll find what I've detected. Some stores don't even stock cards with a religious theme — no Star over Bethlehem, Mary and child, Baby Jesus in a manger. Christmas has been sanitized. It has been stripped of its historic connection to Jesus Christ. It has been turned into a "secular" holiday.

"In honor of the Lord."
There is no biblical commandment requiring Christians to celebrate Mothers Day, Thanksgiving, or Christmas. But, Paul does lay down the principle that any holiday Christians elect to keep should be celebrated "in honor of the Lord" (Romans 14:5-6). So I'm not suggesting that you tear down the secular trappings of the season. If you do honor this holiday, however, do so with holy intent. Sing of Jesus. Read of Bethlehem. Tell the real Christmas story.

The root of Christmas lies deep in God's love. Its fruit is borne by generous hearts, confessing lips, and surrendered lives during this holy time of year.