I love Christmas but not necessarily because it is a Christian holiday. I read statistics the other day on those who celebrate Christmas and why they celebrate it.
Family Trumps Jesus in Christmas Celebrations
Family is the “reason for the season” for 81 percent of people who celebrate Christmas in America, according to a Lifeway Research survey. The study found that nine in 10 Americans (91 percent) personally celebrate Christmas and those aren’t all self-identified Christians. A majority of agnostics or those claiming no preference (89 percent), individuals claiming other religions (62 percent), and even atheists (55 percent) celebrate Christmas along with 97 percent of Christians. But even among Christians, Christ’s birth tends to get lost among other traditions. “[A] closer look at how they celebrate reveals that it typically revolves around family and that Christ-centered elements are not as common,” said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research. “For many in our culture, the season is disconnected from the reason. For many of those, family is the reason for the season.” Religion Today Summaries – Dec. 22, 2010
In some way I fall into the category of family trumping Jesus - but I don’t feel real bad about it. I believe in and follow Jesus as my Lord and Savior every day. I don’t need Christmas to remind me of who He is and what he has done for me because I do that every day.,
I agree with Spurgeon on Christmas: “I love to see holy mirth; I delight to see men well feasted. I like Christmas; I wish it came six times a year.”
The important thing is not whether you celebrate Christmas once a year but whether you affirm Christ as Savior and Lord. Read more »
The passage before us is one that my family has read for years on Christmas morning. We will probably read it again this year. It is a story that has become so familiar that we wonder if there is anything new to discover. Yet, we don’t need to discover anything new. We just need to discover anew the One to whom this passage testifies, a discovery which never ends. And when we leave the scene we should be filled with wonder and follow the shepherds in praise.
Many Americans bemoan today what has been called the “War on Christmas.” I sympathize with many of their concerns yet have a greater concern. The greatest concern is not that the city of Philadelphia wanted to change “Christmas Village” to “Holiday Village” and backtracked after the protests of citizens (of which I was one and wrote a protest letter). Even more concerning to believers should be how little the entrance of the Christ into the world receives notice throughout the year. Yes, Jesus is the reason for the season. More than that, He is the Prince of Peace, King of Kings to whom all owe homage and He will not be content with lip service one season of the year. Jesus is not seasonal, Christmas and Easter, like the aisle in the supermarket. If your Jesus is a seasonal one and shows up once or twice a year then you have not yet met the real Jesus of which Luke speaks. Read more »
Above is an Armenian portrait of Mary greeting Elizabeth in Luke 1.
The following sermon is to be delivered at Grace Church of Philly on December 5, 2010:
The big themes of our text today are joy and humility.
The two sections of text that we will study together in Luke 1 reveal the hearts of women who were genuinely excited and amazed at the character and works of God.
In these texts, it is clear for all to see that there is joy expressed that is beyond compare and without parallel.
In these texts, it is also clear for all to see that there is a very deep humility present in the hearts of these women that colors their joy in a very unique and interesting way.
Thus, the themes of joy and humility are woven together in a literary tapestry that forms one of the most famous and magnificent texts of the New Testament.
Before we undergo a more detailed look at these verses, I believe it is critical to note that the humble rejoicing of these two women is not necessarily centered upon their own personal circumstances, but instead upon the person and works of the mighty, saving God of Israel.
Let us be very careful not to miss this fact. The joy of these two pious and devout women rested and centered in God Himself. They rejoiced as they reflected upon the character of their mighty, saving God.
Too often we find ourselves rejoicing in things that are related to God, but not God Himself. Read more »