Can something as beautiful, meaningful and inspiring as Christmas, be Chaotic? The answer from a majority of people recently surveyed, was, “Absolutely—Yes!”
Most professional counselors believe the Christmas season is the most stressful time of the year. In addition to the regular frantic pace of their schedule, people must host and attend parties, fight the crowds to shop for the perfect gifts for their favorite folks, and deal with nosy and noisy relatives they haven’t seen in months. And additionally–most people feel the need to do all that with pretend patience and plastic smiles.
A young couple in our church told me the first serious argument of their marriage was over where they would spend Christmas. He yelled, she cried and no one was happy with how they divided their time. For some families, this fight is an annual event. It seems that nobody is as hard to please as parents of young couples at Christmas. For these families, Christmas is anything but a “Silent night, holy night” where “all is calm and all is bright.”
Several years ago, we had Christmas chaos that almost became a Christmas catastrophe. Everything reached critical mass during the final church service before Christmas. At the close of evening worship, a jolly man with a fake white beard, dressed in a red Santa’s suit shouted, “Ho, Ho, Ho! Merry Christmas Everybody,” as he strode right down the aisle of the church. As the pastor, his familiar Christmas greeting caused chills to run down my spine. While he laughed and threw candy, some people in the pews were in a panic, outrage covered a few faces, and pure delight adorned the faces of the children. I was squarely in the middle of a pickle. This was not the way it was supposed to happen. My dilemma that pre-Christmas night illustrates the difficulty many Christians face during this celebrated season of the year.
How did I get in the middle of this Christmas chaos? It began a few months before. I had the privilege of leading a young couple, Rick and Helen, to trust the Lord Jesus as their Savior. Rick was a lineman for the electric company and Helen was a stay-at-home mom. They were young married parents in their mid-twenties from a totally non-Christian culture. Before coming to faith in Christ, neither Rick nor Helen had ever attended a church in their lives. But after trusting the Lord to save them, they began to grow as baby Christians. They could not get enough Bible and fellowship, and were on a fast track of spiritual growth. Our church welcomed them into the body with open arms and they never missed a service.
As the Christmas season approached, Rick wanted to do something special for the children in our church. He was unaware of the strong opinions some members held about Santa, Jesus and Christmas traditions. All he knew was that Christmas was Jesus’ birthday and he loved Jesus and wanted to honor Him. However, there were some long-standing members in that same church, who had researched the origins of some ancient Christmas traditions and chose not to celebrate it at all.
Rick, the new believer, had no idea what some fellow members believed. So, he decided to give gifts to the children following that evening service. And, he thought, since it was Christmas, why shouldn’t he dress as Santa and surprise the children? As he strode down the aisle shouting “Ho, Ho, Ho!” the kids were not the only ones surprised!
So, it is true that some Christmas traditions have pagan origins. But does that mean Christians should focus on exposing early origins of Christmas traditions? Or, should we take advantage of the attention Christmas brings and proclaim Christ as Savior? While most people today, like Rick, are unaware of the background of Christmas traditions, the lost world associates Christmas with the birth of Jesus, and that is a great thing! Though Jesus is not the center of most Christmas celebrations, as the bumper sticker says: “He is the Reason for the Season.” Let us capitalize on that fact and use Christmas to proclaim God’s love in sending His Son to be our Savior.
The birth of Christ, the origin of what we celebrate as Christmas—came at just the right time—under just the right circumstances—for just the right reason. In Galatians 4:4-7, Paul wrote, “In the fulness of time, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.” Imagine that! Through faith in Jesus you can be adopted into God’s family, become a son, and an heir of God!
Oh, and what happened to Rick and Helen? After the initial shock of Santa Claus walking the church aisle had worn off, some of the most critical members just laughed at his spiritually youthful exuberance. But . . . in all honesty, wouldn’t it be great if you and I showed that kind of love, enthusiasm and dedication to Jesus this Christmas season? Let’s avoid the Christmas chaos and exalt the Christmas Savior!