Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Why celebrate CHRISTmas?


10 December 2008

Why celebrate CHRISTmas?

Is this the CHRISTmas holiday or the Xmas holiday or just the 'Festive season' break? Are we celebrating Jesus Christ or Santa Claus? Most of the shops seem to prefer Santa Claus because he boosts their sales. Some politicians prefer the 'Festive season' because it is more inclusive of other religions. Does Jesus approve of the way we are celebrating his birthday? Do we realise how many millions of rands will be spent this CHRISTmas by commercial interests on advertising trying to convince us to celebrate Santa Claus instead of CHRIST? In other words to convince us to spend the next week in a mad rush of shopping and spending money instead of think about why Jesus came? Is their going to be a similar amount of media air time explaining why Jesus came? Does it matter? Should we care? I argue it does matter. We should be thinking about CHRIST and not Santa Claus.

In ancient Roman times, Christians started a festival to compete with the pagan celebration of the winter solstice. The Christians won the competition and for centuries the pagan celebration was forgotten. Nevertheless, today the competition for attention for CHRISTmas is on again between the new pagan god of materialism, 'Santa Claus' and our saviour Jesus. Most newspapers and shops, motivated by money, promote the god Santa Claus. Some, embarrassed by the name of our saviour, use 'Xmas' rather than 'CHRISTmas'. 'Political-correctors' in some countries are trying to stop nativity scenes and CHRISTmas carols in public places and schools. Western visitors to a Japanese hotel were shocked a few years back when they woke up on CHRISTmas day to find in the hotel lobby a special display of Santa-Claus nailed to a cross! The hotel owner had got muddled up about the religious holiday and honestly thought it would impress his visitors. We may laugh, but it is a tragic reflection of the way Christ is being displaced by Santa-Claus. The real Saint Nicolas from whom we get the name 'Santa Claus' would be horrified to find his name being abused by commercialist idolatry distracting from Jesus Christ.

Some Christians have even suggested we should abandon the holiday to the pagans, since it was originally the date of a pagan holiday. Should we follow them? No! People are going to celebrate anyway this time of Year. It is just a question of who they celebrate: Santa Claus or Jesus Christ? Lets encourage everyone to celebrate the birth of our saviour Jesus this CHRISTmas. Lets reclaim the day to put Jesus first.

In 2003, the South African Advertising Standards authority ruled that the Post Office could not promote sending letters to Santa Claus, because it was spreading a lie. Good for them. I look forward to the day, when like the ancient Roman gods of Europe, Santa Claus is forgotten and discredited.

Why then is Christ's birth important to celebrate this CHRISTmas? Because it reminds us of the day when God became a man. The creator of the universe chose to enter the world secretly and humbly as a baby human being because we needed his help to save us from the sin, the devil, the world and the judgement of God. The first and only person to be born without a human father.

What does Jesus mean to me?

But the main reason people need to know about him this CHRISTmas is that all of us need him. Unlike Santa Claus, he is not dead, but still alive. He gives us all an opportunity to have a personal relationship with him if we believe in his ability to save us and acknowledge him as Lord of our lives. If you have not already done so, will you consider praying a prayer similar to the following: "Dear Jesus. I admit that I am a sinner. I believe that you came into the world; died for my sin and rose again. I am ready to turn from my sin and follow you as my Lord and saviour. Please forgive my sin and come into my life right now. I give up my life to your control. Thank you for my new relationship with you"

How you can promote CHRIST this CHRISTmas:

* When you write the word CHRISTmas, highlight the word 'CHRIST'.
* Choose CHRISTmas Cards with a Christ-centred message, if you can find them.
* Include devotional time in your family CHRISTmas celebrations.
* Teach your kids Santa-Claus is dead and Jesus is alive!
* If you are an artist, make some CHRIST-centred CHRISTmas cards.
* Play or sing CHRISTmas carols at your CHRISTmas party.
* Don't be intimidated by 'political correctors'. Celebrate Jesus everywhere you want to.
* Tell your relatives, why Christ is important to you in CHRISTmas.
* Invite your unconverted friends to come with you to church this CHRISTmas.

ChristianView Network says we should celebrate CHRIST not Santa Claus this Christmas.

Philip Rosenthal

1 comment:

  1. Nice article. It's hilarious that the press much such a to-do about killing Santa! Christmas-themed controversy is obviously big-business for newspapers at that time of year.