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Christmas Farce

by Donald Geddes — last modified Dec 20, 2014 04:09 PM
When I went looking for Christmas cards that depicted the birth of Christ I was astounded to find how few were available. Most featured Santa, reindeers, Christmas trees, bells and decorations or snow scenes. Finally I found a packet marked “Religious”.

It almost seemed that the policy was: “Whatever else you do, don’t bring religion into Christmas!” We have gone from wishing people “A Merry Christmas” to “Seasons Greetings” and now to accommodate the pagans, “Have a Happy Holiday”. What a farce!

What used to be a happy family occasion seems to have become an exhausting shopping experience followed by a day of overindulgence and a year of paying off the Credit Card debt. What a farce!

How far removed is all this from the original birth of Christ! The Heavenly Host’s anthem of praise, “Glory to God in the highest”, made the birth of Jesus an incredible spiritual event which we have turned into a tawdry commercial experience.

There were no gifts or decorations in the stable the night Jesus was born. He had to wait for more than a year until the Wise Men came with their gifts.

On reflection, our commercialised and paganised celebration of the birth of Christ is not much different from the original event. It was, after all, largely ignored. While the shepherds spread the good news around Bethlehem, there is no indication any who heard bothered to come to the stable. They were too occupied with the politics of the Roman Census and anxious to register and get home.

The shepherds tended the flocks which provided the sacrificial lambs for the Temple at Jerusalem, so there is little doubt, they spread the news of the birth of the Messiah to the priests and Religious Leaders. They knew of the birth of the King but did not bother to come and see.

When the Wise Men arrived many months later enquiring where they could find the one who has been born King of the Jews, the Chief Priests and teachers of the Law quoted the Old Testament prophecy of Micah which tells He would be born in Bethlehem. But they did not bother taking the 7 km journey to Bethlehem to see the long-awaited Messiah.

Being indifferent to and ignoring the birth of God’s Son is nothing new.

Nor is the opposition we are now seeing to celebrating Christmas with nativity scenes, also anything referring to Christ is being banned in some places for fear of offending non-Christians.

King Herod ordered the massacre of all baby boys in Bethlehem in a vain attempt to kill Jesus. Here is a figure prominent in the Christmas story who, strangely enough, is never depicted on Christmas cards. Could you imagine a card with a picture of Herod on the outside and a greeting inside, “Merry Christmas — it might be your last one”?

Another aspect of the story which is not shown on cards is Joseph, Mary and Jesus fleeing to Egypt. That Jesus spent his early years as a refugee is rather embarrassing. But it is important for us in a world where there are over 15 million refugees, 80% of whom are women and children.

You can’t send cards to refugees because they are homeless. But wouldn’t it be a more meaningful celebration of Christmas to send a gift to help feed and clothe these refugees rather than spending money on gifts that are not needed and a surfeit of food and drink? I’m sure that is what would please King Jesus and help bring glory to God in the highest.