“Tis The Season”

‘Tis the season, indeed. Need anyone ask, What season? The world of the J.C. Penney’s, the K-Marts, the Younkers, etc., has been reminding us of the coming, the arrival, and soon (none too soon for many), the end of the “Holiday Season”—Christmas and New Year’s. It seems the whole world, at least all North America, echoes the refrain. ‘Tis the season, we hear, to be jolly. It is the time of year when we have opportunity to show how much we love and care for mom, dad, brother and sister. How? Buy them the dress, microwave, shirt, electric drill, game, or toy of their dreams. Not to do so would imply a lack of love. ‘Tis the holiday season, time for parties, parties, parties, where family and friends come together for one reason: to have a good time. And no party is complete without the party mix, candy, favorite dips, and of course, wine, whiskey, or mixed drinks. For students it is a real holiday season only if you go somewhere or do something special. And you have worked so hard you owe yourself a vacation—perhaps skiing in the mountains, perhaps sunning yourself in Florida—but however you treat yourself, it’s a necessary part of the holiday season.
These are some of the messages vividly displayed on the television screen every 6 or 8 minutes, blared over the radio, and splashed over the pages of the newspapers and magazines. The world is selling the season. By that I do not mean that they are selling many material goods—new radios, gloves, whiskey, etc. They are doing that, too. But what they are really selling us is an idea—the idea that this season is a time for all men to enjoy life in a special way. Another way to put it is that everyone must seek his own pleasure in life. Every effort must be made to reach that goal. To do this one must spend money, much money. Caution is thrown to the wind as presents, vacation trips, and party supplies are put on charge accounts. Pay later, enjoy the holiday season now.
This attitude and practice has swept over the church world as well. The millions of dollars spent to advertise and sell this idea have been quite effective. It is sad, but true, that we rush to the stores on the heels of the world buying the items that will make us and our family and friends “happy.” Notice that I wrote “we;” I am as guilty in this as anyone.
How did this happen? How did we allow the world to influence us to this extent? The answer is simple: the world persuaded us to take our eyes off from Christ and to put them on material things. The way this was done is remarkable for its subtlety, which points to the work of Satan behind it all. For first of all, Satan and his allies seized two ideas connected with Christ’s birth—the ideas of a gift and of joy. These are, you would agree, important ideas in Christmas—the gift from God of the Savior and the joy of salvation. But the world isolated these ideas, carefully modified them, and magnified them to the exclusion of all else. The result is that men madly pursue a perverted joy and gift-giving that has nothing to do with the coming of Christ. The spiritual gift of God’s Son and the spiritual rejoicing in salvation has become a rejoicing in material gifts and earthly pleasures. For this joy, Christ is not needed or even desired. Santa Claus will do this much better. And while we are at it, why call this the Christmas season; let’s call it the holiday season instead. There you have it. Christ is effectively covered up at Christmas. The world of the ungodly has not changed. They wanted nothing of Christ as an infant; they hated Him as the Christ of God; they killed Him with the full knowledge that He was the Son of God. No, the world has not changed. We have.
Clearly what we must do is tear our gaze away from the material gifts and rid ourselves of the notion that this season is here for earthly joys and pleasures. Then we must set our eyes steadfastly on Christ. He is the Gift, the “unspeakable gift” from God. In this Christ of the Scriptures is true rejoicing. Properly celebrated, our Christmas will not be empty of joy and laughter. Look at the happiness described in Luke 1 & 2. The joy of Elisabeth and Zacharias and of Mary spilled over into songs of praise. Even the unborn baby John jumped for joy in his mother’s womb. But their rejoicing was in God, and in the salvation He would realize in His Anointed Son. That joy must be ours. And that joy does not last a season, nor does it need a particular time of year to be expressed. In fact, this joy is eternal, and the praise we sing to God now we will sing eternally in perfection.
What will be your joy this Christmas? Let us stop imitating the unbelieving world, and instead, rejoice with the Church of all ages in the Wonder of Christ’s birth.