I had an odd epiphany yester-eve…
Will has been watching a variety of Christmas specials. Rudolph is his favorite right now, but he’s also seen two long Disney specials (Mickey’s Once/Twice Upon A Christmas) and a few Christmas themed videos (Veggietales, Little Einsteins, etc.)
I noticed something. In Rudolph, Santa is telling the elves that because of the weather he has to “cancel” Christmas – but then Rudolph saves the day. In two of the Mickey specials, Mickey “saves” Christmas, and in one Donald’s nephews remark (“it’s not every one who can both cancel and save Christmas in one day”).
It seems that Christmas is routinely threatened in our popular culture and literature. (Lynn pointed out this is nothing new, citing Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” But I point out that Scrooge doesn’t really save Christmas for anyone, not even the Cratchetts who would have celebrated a Christmas [meager though it might have been] without his assistance. What Scrooge does do is discover one of the key elements of the holiday, and it transforms him.)
Now, lest I leave the idea that “Christmas is threatened” to just literature and popular culture, it also occurred to me that I routinely hear about it being threatened in other arenas. News channels talk about the “war on Christmas,” because some communities or organizations want to use the more inclusive “holiday(s).” Christians bemoan the secularization of Christmas, declaring that we need to “keep Christ in Christmas.” Even well-reasoned articles in Time Magazine make a case that although secularization is not the real threat to Christmas, consumerism might be…
Do you see a parallel? We seem to have a Messiah Complex in relation to Christmas both in popular culture and in society at large. From a reindeer saving Christmas with his Edisonian nose to Christians saving Christmas from becoming just another secular holiday – there seems to be an urge within us to “save Christmas.”
I will admit that I’ve felt it from time to time. Felt an urge to make my preaching in this season a bit more pointed and poignant, to try to help people keep their eyes on Jesus as the “reason for the season.” But as this strange epiphany settled on me last night, it occurred to me…
Our God does not need me to “save Christmas.” Beyond the fact that Christmas is a holy day created and adapted in relatively modern times, the true nature/reason behind the season – the celebration of the Incarnation, the birth of Jesus Christ – will be evidenced and celebrated even if this holiday does somehow become “lost” or “cancelled.”
The truth of Christmas is Emmanuel, “God with us.” Ultimately the fate of the holiday doesn’t matter to those who don’t come to know or believe Jesus Christ; and for those who come to know and love Jesus, some form of Christmas – celebration of Messiah’s entrance into our world – will always occur. God will continue to work in the hearts and lives of people; our resurrected Lord will continue to live on and draw people toward God.
So although I will continue to share the importance of Christmas, I no longer feel a need to champion it, to “save” it from whatever might be threatening it this year.
Unless that threat happens to be vampires. Vampires I’ll happily take on to “save” Christmas.