[forthright] Christmas and Christ

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2007 16:25:14 -0600
Forthright Magazine
Straight to the Cross

Our editor has been busy marrying off his
son and his trusty assistant has not been
very trustworthy. So Randy's fine
article didn't get delivered yesterday.
So today, you are getting a two-fer!

COLUMN: Final Phase

Christmas and Christ
by J. Randal Matheny, editor

Where does Christ fit in Christmas?

If an extraterrestrial were to observe many lawns
where Frosty and Santa share space with a nativity
scene, he might be confused when the home owners
tried to explain that they believe Christ was born
of a virgin, but that Santa and Frosty were, well,
mythical characters.

A middle school program we attended recently
included songs about the mythical characters like
Frosty and Rudolph, seamlessly, with "Away in a
Manger" and other religious hymns.

This strange mixture bespeaks part of the problem
Christians face about the nature of Christmas.

So what about Christmas and Christ?

First, Paul gives individual liberty when people
want to observe special days.

He wrote, "Therefore do not let anyone judge you
with respect to food or drink, or in the matter of
a feast, new moon, or Sabbath days" (Colossians
2:16 NET).

With the Romans he insisted, "One person regards
one day holier than other days, and another
regards them all alike. Each must be fully
convinced in his own mind. The one who observes
the day does it for the Lord" (Romans 14:5,6a).

No one is better for thinking of Christ during
Christmas, nor is one less for wanting to leave
Christ out of the holiday, since there is no
Biblical precedent for it.

Second, some people may be more inclined to think
of spiritual values and Christ during Christmas,
and this may provide a moment to encourage further
meditation and teach about the true commitment to
Jesus. Christmas may therefore become, if used
wisely, an evangelistic opening.

Third, the mixture of myth and truth, of tradition
and revelation, in people's understanding of the
meaning of Christmas offers New Testament
Christians an opportunity to teach what the Bible
says about Christ and salvation. With love and
kindness, facts can be presented and spiritual
principles put forth that will change lives.

Fourth, the church will continue its worship and
proclamation without ceasing, without change.
There is no holiday to get away from faithfulness,
no flagging of zeal, no flippant treatment of the
incarnate God who came to save. Her constant
question is, how can we turn this to good for the
Kingdom of God in our commitment to remain
faithful to our mandate?

The "snowy wings" of angels and the curled shoes
of elves are a dissonant picture to our eyes.
Mangers and sleighs really don't match up. All
because we serve a merciful God far superior to a
jolly Santa and have received a gift of salvation
far greater than toys, ties, or technogadgets.

But, then, not everybody knows that yet. Let's
tell them.

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