Tuesday, April 28, 2015

X is for Xmas

I read last once, that a school principal in New York prohibited the mention of the “EASTER BUNNY” because Easter is a religious word.  Instead, they have substituted the name Peter Cottontail. That’s crazy. Everyone knows that Peter Cottontail is a make-believe children’s fairy tale rabbit and they know the difference between him and the Easter Bunny.

This country has gone nuts. And we just seem to roll over at every politically correct effort to secularize our religious holidays. The Thanksgiving holiday is now commonly referred to as “Turkey Day” or “Harvest Celebration.” And in recent years, there has been a noticeable increase in the use of the term “T-Day” which is just about as outrageous as removing the name of Christ from Christmas and replacing it with an X.

Because we are afraid to offend anyone when we come to a holiday like “Thanksgiving Day,” we try to express our thankfulness in general without mentioning God in particular. That’s like the child who wrote for a classroom assignment, "The Pilgrims came here for freedom of ‘you know what.’ When they landed, they gave thanks to ‘you know who’ and because of them, we can worship each Sunday, ‘you know where.’”

Concerning Xmas, I’m kinda thinking that God is probably not very impressed anyway, with so many hypocrites who, for a few days each year, pretend to want to keep Christ in Christmas symbolically when they literally reject Him and expel Him from every other area of their lives.

Have you ever really noticed how the holidays are lined up on the calendar? I think there is an interesting narrative of the Christian faith found in the way they are ordered. Think about this!

What we generally refer to as the HOLIDAY SEASON, starts in the Fall with Halloween which has become the biggest holiday of the year in the U.S.  More time and money and energy is spent on this holiday that any other. The theme of Halloween is darkness and it is all about evil. From a spiritual standpoint, that is where most of the world is. That is our natural condition so it is understandable that most people are very comfortable with it. The Bible tells us that “men love the darkness because their deeds are evil” (John 3:19). It also tells us that we are “dead in sin” (Eph. 2:1, Col. 2:13). We have no knowledge of God and until the Spirit of God reaches toward us and brings us light, we can’t know Him. But when that happens, He gives us a desire to discover Him and a longing to learn more about Him.

The next holiday on the calendar is Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving is not a multi-cultural celebration about Indians; it’s not even about Pilgrims, pumpkins, or turkeys. In 1621, the Pilgrims had just endured a terrible winter in which scores of children and adults had starved to death. They were ready to give up and were about to return to England when another ship arrived with medical supplies, food, and just enough hope to encourage them to remain in the midst of terrible adversity.

Two years later William Bradford, the governor of the Plymouth Colony, said, “Inasmuch as the Father has given us an abundant harvest and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish; and He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship Him according to the dictates of our own conscience; I now proclaim that on Thursday, November 29, 1623, we will render thanksgiving to the Almighty God for all His blessings.” Romans 2:4 says, “The goodness of God leads you to repentance.” We celebrate His goodness, His provision, and His care at Thanksgiving.

So then what is the ultimate manifestation of His Goodness? It’s the giving of His Son and we celebrate His birth at Christmas, the very next Holiday on our calendar.

Then there was this guy named Valentine. He was a priest near Rome, during the rule of Emperor Claudius II, who was persecuting and imprisoning Christians for not worshiping the Roman gods.

A few years before the onset of the persecution of Christians, war broke out in the Roman Empire and Claudius began calling for all the able-bodied men to go into battle. Many of the men were reluctant to leave their families or their sweethearts. To remedy that, Emperor Claudius ordered that no marriages were to be celebrated and that all engagements were to be broken off immediately.

St. Valentine, in addition to helping other Christians escape persecution, is said to have begun secretly performing Christian marriages for young couples wishing to marry in spite of the Emperor's ban. Valentine soon had a reputation throughout Rome as a friend of those in love.

When Claudius learned of Valentine's activities, he had him arrested and imprisoned for not renouncing his faith. Yet, even in prison, Valentine continued to minister to those with whom he had contact.

Emperor Claudius was so furious that he had Valentine beaten with clubs and beheaded on February 14, in the year 270 A.D. Valentine was made a saint by the Church because of his commitment to his faith even unto death.

Isn’t that like God’s Love? “God demonstrated His love for us (His Bride) in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

And He did that on the cross, which brings us right up to Resurrection Day (which we call Easter).

I don’t know where on the calendar yours is but after Easter is where I am going to insert my Birthday. There was a time in my life, and yours, when we were born. I was very young when that happened. And then, for Christians, there was another time when God gave us new life and we were Born Again.

Later, on the calendar, we get to a day we call Independence Day. We have been liberated.  Likewise, Christ sacrificed His life to free us from the bondage of sin and death. “If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). That’s worth celebrating.

Finally, we come all the way back again to the holiday of darkness and death – Halloween. But most of us who are Christians, no longer wallow in that one. We walk in the light and have no fear of death because we will live forever with the Lord.

So there it is. God is sovereign in history and in salvation. But if you want to continue to secularize all the holidays in the name of tolerance and political correctness, you are certainly free to celebrate Spooky Day, Turkey Day, Peter Cottontail Day, and even the jolly old fat man who shows up at Xmas.  So, go ahead and knock your socks off!


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