December 20, 2014

Reclaiming Christmas

If you listen to conservative media and Christian radio you will no doubt hear about the supposed war that exists between the Atheists and the Christians regarding removing Christ from "Christmas." The Atheists want to remove God from all public places, and would be overjoyed if they could even limit an individual's right to free expression of faith. The war against Christmas seems to be raging, and not a day goes by where individuals, groups, organizations, and companies are being told they can no longer worship Jesus or celebrate the day with the traditional greeting of "Merry Christmas."

I started thinking about this idea today, how Christmas is being demoted to just another commercial celebration, how the message of Christ is being removed in favor of every other holiday or religious celebration. Part of me understands and sees the attempt by the PC crowd to limit the influence of Christianity, but part of me also understands and sees the futility of the action by those who seek to limit and those who seek to increase that influence. Let me explain...

I am reminded today of this passage of Scripture. If we consider the words of the prophet Isaiah as he proclaimed the coming Messiah, we should not be troubled by what we see happening in our world today or with the efforts of individuals who are attempting to pervert and diminish the message of Hope.

Isaiah 53 NLT

1 Who has believed our message?
To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?
2 My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot,
like a root in dry ground.
There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance,
nothing to attract us to him.
3 He was despised and rejected—
a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care.

4 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for his own sins!
5 But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
the sins of us all.

7 He was oppressed and treated harshly,
yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
he did not open his mouth.
8 Unjustly condemned,
he was led away.
No one cared that he died without descendants,
that his life was cut short in midstream.
But he was struck down
for the rebellion of my people.
9 He had done no wrong
and had never deceived anyone.
But he was buried like a criminal;
he was put in a rich man’s grave.

10 But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him
and cause him grief.
Yet when his life is made an offering for sin,
he will have many descendants.
He will enjoy a long life,
and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands.
11 When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish,
he will be satisfied.
And because of his experience,
my righteous servant will make it possible
for many to be counted righteous,
for he will bear all their sins.
12 I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier,
because he exposed himself to death.
He was counted among the rebels.
He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.

If you read through these verses you cannot help but be reminded of the truth of Jesus, of his birth, his life, and his death. Our Lord was never received, never believed, and never welcomed into this world. Isaiah paints a clear picture of what was to come, and as such, it should come as no surprise that there are today voices that seek to silence the coming season of light, to silence the chorus of angels, and to silence the cry of worshipers who seek to honor, to praise, and to glorify Him.

Christ has never been removed from "Christmas" and no matter how people try to do so, there is no way that anyone, any human being, can ever remove the love of God from His love for humanity. A day may come when we can no longer openly celebrate His birth, but that doesn't mean that we cannot carry, that we do not carry His love within us. Christ will always be at the center of everything, and therefore, while we may not like what we see being played out on the human stage of events, we can take comfort in knowing that no one will ever shift Him from His rightful place on the throne of Heaven. He is King, He is Messiah, He has come and He is coming again. Praise be to God, hallelujah He has come!

The Hallelujah Chorus from the Messiah by George Frideric Handel (1741)

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

The kingdom of this world
Is become the kingdom of our Lord,
And of His Christ, and of His Christ;
And He shall reign for ever and ever,
For ever and ever, forever and ever,

King of kings, and Lord of lords,
King of kings, and Lord of lords,
And Lord of lords,
And He shall reign,
And He shall reign forever and ever,
King of kings, forever and ever,
And Lord of lords,
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

And He shall reign forever and ever,
King of kings! and Lord of lords!
And He shall reign forever and ever,
King of kings! and Lord of lords!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

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