Well, it's that time of year again. You know, the one everyone says they look forward to, but are glad when it comes only once a year. The time when Americans go on a materialistic spending orgy, wiping out the progress of the past year toward a debt-free life.
You know what I mean, of course. It's Christmas. Just a few more days, and it'll be here.
Christmas is a topic of disagreement among Christians. Some want to celebrate it to the full, while others say it's a pagan orgy, and should be avoided.
It's true that it's not a holiday that was celebrated by the early church, nor does the Bible have anything to say about it. And it's true that it's unlikely that Jesus was born in December.
It's also true that it's a mindless frenzy of spending that would leave any king in history goggle-eyed and slack-jawed with amazement. The word that comes to mind is "disgusting."
So should followers of Jesus celebrate his birth? Well, there are other days that have been considered more important through history: Easter and Pentecost, for example, though few know the significance of the latter now.
Despite all this, the birth of Jesus is without question the most amazing event ever. God became one of us - a man - to give us opportunity to know him and live in relationship with him! And, amazingly, He did it when the vast majority of us flat out didn't and don't care.
So should we celebrate? Yes! A thousand times yes! Never mind the history of the day. Never mind the spending orgy. Never mind the lights and Santa stuff and all that. (Did you know where the modern concept of Santa Claus came from? Coca-Cola devised it as a marketing device. But there was a real Saint Nicholas. He was a Christian Bishop, a martyr, and a wonderful story to tell your kids about the "real Santa.")
Our celebration might be quiet, with no tree, gifts or lights. It might be done in some other manner. But it needs to be done. We need to acknowledge the momentous day when Hope entered the world. Without that day, we would be lost today.
Then, of course, there are some folks aren't about to do something that God didn't command. I understand that, but would ask one question: Do you really believe God frowns on a desire to celebrate anything about Jesus? I'll be bold and say that God would be delighted to see Christians showing enthusiasm about Jesus and anything related to him. He would be even more delighted to see us actually obey Jesus.
So, let's do it. Celebrate Jesus! Do it any way you like, but do it! It's important! And remember, however you do it, it's about Jesus. All of life is about him.
A suggestion: Since there is, after all, a tradition of gift giving, and since the day marks the "birthday of Jesus," it seems appropriate to give gifts to Him. The first and best, of course, is ourselves. He would be utterly delighted to have us, lock, stock and barrel with no strings attached. Then there is the matter of money. It's his birthday, after all. So what about taking what would normally be spent on more junk for people who have too much already, and giving it to a relief organization to help them bring a better life to those who have little. They are the ones for whom God has over and again shown deep compassion. Take a look, for an example, at www.worldvisiongifts.com, or Google "Voice of the Martyrs." Both excellent options.