I recently had a conversation with a student who said to me as we were playing Christmas music in the lobby of the church, “I love this season but I absolutely hate Christmas music.”
Going home that day, I couldn’t stop thinking about what that student said to me and I was led to pay closer attention to the feelings and atmosphere of the places I visited for the next few days.
We’re in the thick of Christmas season now. You turn on the radio and you hear Christmas songs. People will be paying extra on their electricity bill this month as they put up a lot of lights all around the house. People are rushed to buy presents and decorate their homes and work places. You can clearly see all around us that Christmas is supposed to be a joyful season as words like jolly, merry, hope, joy, peace are displayed through the decorations of shopping malls and stores and main streets everywhere.
And on one of the following days, I had to go buy some gift cards at Starbucks and I was tasked to look for a Christmas themed gift card. As I looked around, I saw images of Christmas trees, gifts, sparkles, words like joyful and love. But it seems the marketing department of Starbucks has decided for the past few years to forgo using the word Christmas itself. Before the season is over, go take a look and see for yourself. You will not find the word Christmas anywhere in the marketing, designs and decorations of Starbucks except maybe one card that actually says “Merry Christmas.” Not to say there is anything wrong with that. Starbucks is a secular company and there is no reason for a non-religious business to promote something religious. Except maybe to give the impressions of the holiday for the sake making most of the business opportunities without actually endorsing whatever religious meanings it may bring with it.
Empty Words, Empty Holidays
But this fact does speak into something serious and significant. There may be many different reasons why some people don’t like Christmas music, but I began to think about one reason that is above our personal preferences and opinions that is reflected in the things I’ve seen, heard and felt during this season. And that reason is simple. It is the fact that these Christmas songs, decorations, and words like joy, peace and love has lost its meaning.
Having taken Christ out of Christmas, everything has become a shell of what it was meant to be. And because of that, whether we recognize it or not, many who find Christmas music or the Christmas season in general uneasy, distasteful or overdone feel that way because in their hearts, they can sense the phony nature of all that the world produces for this season.
Without Jesus in the picture, all the words that describe Christmas loses its true meaning. Without Jesus, there is no true hope. Without Jesus, there is no true peace. Without Jesus, there is no true joy. There is no reason for any joyful noise to be made. There is no reason for rejoicing. There is no sounding joy for us to repeat.
Of course, this hasn’t stopped the world from trying to replace that reason and so without Jesus, the reasons inevitably become self-centered and grotesque. Without Jesus, we need taller trees and more lights, more red ribbons, more intricate lights, light shows that go along with music, a day filled with people dressed as Santa, validations to participate in drunkenness and don’t forget all the shopping and sales and discounts. The world makes every effort to make Christmas about everything except Jesus.
Returning to The Only Reason
If we are not careful, Christians can also lose sight of the reason for Christmas. We always walk a narrow path with two pits on either side. On one side is the acceptance of the secularized Christmas we see advertised all around us. On the other side is a reactive religiosity. Christmas as we know it isn’t found in the Bible. But God taking on flesh and being born into this world by the Holy Spirit through a virgin to fulfill prophecies of the Messiah, the Savior of the world, is found in the Bible. And through many years of traditions, December 25th has come to mark the celebration of the birth of Jesus.
Jesus is the only reason for Christmas. He’s not just the biggest reason or the most important reason, he is the only reason. If you’ve found yourself hurrying past this season without taking pause to prepare Christ room, I suggest you take the next few weeks to do so. Stop for a moment from all the busyness of the holidays and the preparations of year-end parties and new years resolutions and meditate on the person of Christ. Quiet your life for just a moment to recognize this sacred remembrance of God himself entering into the world to seek and save us all. It will do us much needed good.