I've heard most if not all the arguments both for and against the celebration of Christmas. It's true that Christmas is definitely different in 2012 than it was when I was a boy. I took note that not one check-out person in grocery stores, the pharmacy, department stores or any place else I can think of said, "Merry Christmas" or even "Happy Holidays" when I collected my goods to go. I can only attribute this to strict instructions from management to say nothing unless someone greeted you first, which I did on more than one occasion and was usually returned the greeting with the same words and maybe a brief smile to go along with it. Only the Lord knows what it will be like a decade or two from now. Even the Japanese "celebrate" Christmas but in that island nation it has nothing to do with Jesus and everything to do with brightly colored lights and consumerism just as it is in much of America. We also know that Jesus was not born in December (probably it was the spring of the year) and in those days wood was a scarce commodity so the nursery would not have been in a barn as we think of it but likely in one of the many caves that dot the landscape of Bethlehem. I have visited just such a cave and remember singing Christmas carols in March, which was a memorable moment.
So, what should true disciples of Jesus do or not do every December? Should we let go of the celebration entirely because the season has been so horrifically commercialized and, from a Christian perspective, so abused and misused? My answer to that question is simple - "Not on your life." If anything, let us sing all the louder and celebrate the incarnation and birth of the Savior all the more heartily for we have so much to rejoice about. As the hymn say, "O come all ye faithful, JOYFUL and TRIUMPHANT! Our children and their children should be excited come Christmas day. Yes, we must teach them why the day is special to us but presents are fun at any age and we give them with love in our hearts even as we recall the most stupendous "present" ever given to this fallen world.
The inimitable Pastor Doug Wilson from Moscow, Idaho argues that celebrating Christ’s advent should not be turned into an introspective dirge. There should be feasting and joy. In an essay for Christianity Today, he writes:
Celebrate the stuff. Use fudge and eggnog and wine and roast beef. Use presents and wrapping paper. Embedded in many of the common complaints you hear about the holidays (consumerism, shopping, gluttony, etc.) are false assumptions about the point of the celebration. You do not prepare for a real celebration of the Incarnation through thirty days of Advent Gnosticism.
At the same time, remembering your Puritan fathers, you must hate the sin while loving the stuff. Sin [is] not resident in the stuff. Sin is found in the human heart—in the hearts of both true gluttons and true scrooges—both those who drink much wine and those who drink much prune juice. If you are called up to the front of the class, and you get the problem all wrong, it would be bad form to blame the blackboard. That is just where you registered your error. In the same way, we register our sin on the stuff. But—because Jesus was born in this material world, that is where we register our piety as well. If your godliness won’t imprint on fudge, then it is not true godliness.
So, rejoice dear people. The Lord our God has brought about the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of His "anointed one" and it is truly marvelous in our eyes. One day (maybe today or tomorrow) He will return in full splendor and we will have even greater reason to give thanks and rejoice. But, until then, every December let us pull out the decorations, dust off the carols, and make merry for the Lord our God has blessed HIs people beyond all that we could ask or think.
In light of these things, Rita and I wish for you and yours a blessed, joyful and most enjoyable Christmas celebration - eggnog, fudge and all. Thank God for the Christ of Christmas - this Jesus who is the Savior of all who believe in Him and call upon His name for the salvation He alone could secure. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!