December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve

It is Christmas Eve day, so that means that this is the LAST shopping day before Christmas 2015! I can't believe it, but there you go...the year is almost over, and today signals that we have only seven more days until we ring in the New Year.

I don't know why I am not happier, more festive, and more excited about that fact. I guess I am feeling somewhat deflated this year. I have noticed a pattern lately, and I think it is all the negativity surrounding Christmas (is it Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas?). Furthermore, the whole atmosphere of Christmas has changed. People are grumpier, more Scrooge-like, and frankly, it seems that everywhere you go there is either no "sign" of Christmas or what is on display is a toned-down "no offense" version of the Christmas theme.

Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year. As a child, I loved the fall holidays -- all of them -- from Labor Day right on through to New Year's Eve. I look forward to each holiday at school, and yes, back then, we actually made craft items that celebrated each special day. We didn't shy away from Columbus Day. We celebrated the Pilgrims and the INDIANS on Thanksgiving. And we made Christmas decorations that were not religious (snowman, candles that looked like candy canes, and holly wreaths) while we sang traditional Christmas carols in the classroom. No one took offense. No one minded. It was fun. It was joyful. It was festive.

Now, it is all about not putting anyone out, not causing anyone offense. People are afraid to utter any type of greeting for fear of retribution. Jews and Christians are under attack mostly because this time of the year is symbolic of two major festivals celebrating their history. Traditionally, Christmas was reserved to celebrate the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ. If you didn't celebrate Christmas or at the least be kind about not celebrating it, you were not considered a Scrooge. It was accepted that some people celebrate while others did not. No one was hurt. There was no offense taken. You were wished a Merry Christmas or a Happy Hanukkah and you smiled. You waved and thanked those bell-ringers outside the stores. You gave a reply wish to everyone who wished you the best. And, the truth was that most people, even those who were not religious still celebrated the commercial aspects of the holiday. Your non-religious neighbors still did the tree, the lights, the gift-giving -- all parts of the celebration that had nothing what so ever to do with Christ coming into the world.

Now, though, it seems that anyone who celebrates Christmas is being told to stop -- and urged to not celebrate at all.  Why? Well, because it is offensive to people who choose to believe other things. The hatred of all things God-centered has made Christmas an anathema.  If  you worship the Christ child or celebrate the honored festival of lights, you face criticism and even hatred. Our world is slowly sinking into the muck and the mire of secular humanism and along with it comes the appeal toward atheism.

Even Commercialism is Affected

Yesterday, I was over at Walmart. I had to do some last minute shopping so I went to our big box superstore. It wasn't very crowded, and I was surprised at the low volume of Christmas items that normally greet you at the front of the store. I have been thinking lately that this is due to the down turned economy, but now I am thinking it is simply because retailers are fighting to stay in business when the whole "holiday" mess is under the microscope. As I wander through the store, I ended up over in groceries. I wanted some small stocking stuffers, you know, candy and such. I was shocked to see that the aisle that had all the Christmas themed gift items had been moved, well, replaced by hearts. Yes, it was December 23rd, and Walmart had removed every single "Christmas" item and put up Valentines items.

I wasn't the only one who was disappointed. Several other shoppers all commented about it too. Where did they go? Why switch the season before the holiday even arrived? I guess it is never too early to start the next holiday, right?

The same thing was noted at the mall. I shopped with my brother on Tuesday, and noticed among other things, the low volume of product. For example, the display cases used to be full of items, various sizes, etc. There were some items, but many of the cases were empty. It appeared that the offering was so limited. I noticed also that a lot of the stores weren't even decorated for Christmas. There were no "Holiday" signs in the windows nor were there any special lights or other decor to show that the holiday was approaching.

Christmas, it seems, is dead. The holiday, the spirit, the joy, and the festivity is gone.

My heart is feeling sad today. I think it is because I see that this is the New Age of Atheism. Yes, our country, like many others, is beginning to look eerily similar to the countries under the Iron Curtain. Religion is forbidden to be practiced outside the home. All displays of religious significance are restricted. People are reduced to living in a way that every word they utter is censored. No wishing your neighbor happy holidays. Not acceptable. Not permitted.

We are heading into dark days and dark times. I can see it, I can sense it. I am praying today for the Lord's mighty and quick return. Come, Lord Jesus, Come!

In other news, well perhaps more joyous news, it is Christmas Eve day. Yes, it is the day before Christmas, and at the least, all through this house not everyone is stirring. I slept late, almost to 11 a.m. this morning. My son is still in bed, though I hear murmurs of him moving about. My Mom and Dad are up and doing what they normally do. I am sitting here blogging and thinking dreary thoughts. Help me, Lord Jesus, help me think about the good things you do for us. Help me to focus on your goodness this very good, good day!

My boys are sleeping next to me, and for now, I am content to know that while my world is slowing spinning out of existence (as we know it), one thing is for sure: the Lord lives, and He reigns! No matter what the outside world looks like, no matter what is going on out there -- in here -- in my heart and in my home, He lives! Yes, He lives, and He reigns as sovereign Lord over every detail of my life.

I am content to remember this fact. I am content to know that tomorrow will come and we will celebrate the Lord's birth. Then in a few short months, we will celebrate His Resurrection from the dead. Furthermore, the day is coming soon when all people will know the truth about Christmas and about Easter. They will know the truth, see it, and for many, that realization will be too late. They will have missed the opportunity to come to know Him personally, to experience His great love, His great affection, and His great mercy. They will only experience His wrath as He comes to destroy the wickedness in the world.

It is the hard sword that follows the joyous news of the Christ Child's birth, and for many, this fact is disturbing. Yes, the very thought that God would come again to destroy is particularly difficult for them to accept -- it is the bitter pill that they must swallow. Furthermore, because they refused to accept Him when He came two-thousand years ago as a loving Savior, they now attempt to stamp out every vestige of his His memory and His mission.

As I close out this post, I am reminded of these words recorded by John:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Christmas is all about gift giving and sacrifice, but not about the commercialization, the holiday greetings, the signs, and the celebration of the season. No, it is about God sending His only Son as a ransom for the world. Jesus is the reason for the season -- Jesus is the reason we celebrate Christmas. Selah!

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