No, the title is not a typo. I didn’t get the words out of order. In fact, I will suggest that this perspective may be the key to reclaiming Christmas. I realize that’s a bold statement, but stick with me.
In an article by Donald Heinz, Professor of Religious Studies at California State University, Chico, two statements really stand out: (1) “Getting Christmas right means getting ourselves right and ultimately getting God right.” (2) “The renewal of Christmas will not come about through nostalgic returns to a past time of Christian predominance or through prohibitionist scolding, but through an active imagination that makes everything captive and obedient to Christ.”
This is really what I have been trying to communicate over the past few weeks in my thoughts on “Happy Holidays” and Christmas slogans. Here’s the bottom line. The only way to take Christ out of Christmas is to make Christmas the featured story. But if Christmas is kept in perspective as a part of the larger story of Christ, then there is no way to take Him out of the story. It is His story. He IS the story.
The only way to take Christ out of Christmas is to make Christmas the featured story. Click To Tweet
It is amazing to me that many who complain the loudest about getting the words right will have a hard time making it to church to worship Christ this coming Sunday because it is “Christmas weekend.” Or even if they make it for Christmas, they may not be seen there again until Easter. We sometimes call them the “Chreasters” or the “Flower Children”. The only time you see them in church are when there are poinsettias or lilies present.
But going to church is not really how to keep Christmas in Christ. If Christ really is the story, then we need to be sure we don’t leave Him as a baby in a manger. He also lived a sinless life, was crucified to pay the penalty for my sin and yours, was buried and rose again on the third day, was seen alive by many, and ascended into Heaven where He is now seated at the right hand of the Father and intercedes on our behalf. How could we possibly doubt how much our lives matter to God?
So if He is the story, and we are called (according to Professor Heinz) to have an active imagination that makes everything captive and obedient to Him, then how do we do it? How do we keep Christmas in Christ?
I once “polled the audience” in a church where I was speaking and asked them that question.
Here’s what they said:
- Remember to care about the needy and lonely all year long and not just at Christmas.
- Remember that it is love and not slogans that demonstrate the reality of Christ to the world. (John 13:35 – “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.“).
- Remember that there are people who need to see the story lived out in the lives of Christ-followers before they will be ready to listen to it.
I couldn’t have said it better myself.