By Dr. Foster H. Shannon
Thanksgiving is past and the four weeks of Advent have begun. We look forward to celebrating the birthday of our Lord and Savior on December 25—the day that Christians have chosen to worship and celebrate our Lord’s birthday for at least 1700 years.
Christmas has become a festival of grand proportions, with the idea of giving to our Savior and living for him—turned by many into celebrations that are pagan and offensive. While they came at a time later than the birth of Jesus, the Magi traveled for perhaps a thousand miles to give gifts to our Lord—and, thus, have inspired us in the giving of gifts not only to our Savior, but also to one another. For some it is just one more holiday to eat, drink, and be merry. There should be joy in the celebration of Christmas. We should not begrudge that to anyone. But those of us who believe in the Lord should remember that it is indeed the birth of our Lord that we celebrate, and not our own birthday. [Yes, I acknowledge that for one out of every 365 people, it will be their birthday!]
Some of the ways that Christmas is celebrated have gotten out of hand, and are not in harmony with worship and rejoicing in our Savior. But this should not deter us from recognizing that this is a season for us to sing great hymns and songs and that the story of the advent of Jesus Christ is tremendously dramatic and marvelous. In it we see the hand of God and the gift of salvation that he brings to all who will acknowledge Jesus as Savior and Lord. With that understanding as the background, it is appropriate for us to celebrate in our Churches and in our homes and to send greetings to family and friends. The true joy comes when our attention is focused on the grandeur and goodness of our God.
We regret that some are offended at the celebration of the birth of our Lord. They wish that we would be quiet and even silent. Some are so perturbed and offended that they seek by rules and legislation to forbid any public signs of celebrating Christmas. On the one hand, we should be respectful of those who disagree with us. On the other hand, we should not be ashamed of our belief and faith. On our coins and currency we read, “In God we trust”. The houses of Congress and the Supreme Court open their sessions with prayer. Read the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson and the signers appealed to the authority of God. The solid rock of the laws and authority of God was a foundation on which our nation was built.
If we forget and deny that truth, the structure on which our nation is built will crumble. Those who founded our nation understood that we are dependent upon God and his purposes. Let us not be deterred by those who say they are offended, nor by those who attempt to rewrite our history. If we follow them, we will find ourselves shipwrecked. We should stand for our right to affirm what we believe, but we should do that in the spirit of the teachings of scripture:
James 3:17, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity.”
We do not seek to deny the followers of other religions or beliefs the celebration of their festivals—neither should they deny us that right. Have a wonderful Advent and a Merry Christmas!
Thank you. More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs. ‘LIKE’ our FACEBOOK PAGE!