Watching and listening to the beautiful music video by Becky Kelley, “Where’s the Line to See Jesus?”, I found myself feeling sad and melancholy. It reminded me of an earlier time, a simpler, slower, more family-oriented time when Christmas in America held great significance because of its religious meaning.
But today we find Christmas often reduced to a secular occasion where freedom of religion has been superseded by freedom from religion. This transformation over time has, for many, stolen the true joy and meaning of the Christmas season.
When I was a boy, Christmas was centered on the Christ Child. Oh, we had Santa and Christmas trees and all the trimmings, but the central focus was Christ. Almost everyone had a manger scene under their tree with an assortment of angels incorporated into decorations. Part of our at home celebration was reading the Story of the Child and singing favorite carols with gleeful abandon.
Holiday cards were Christmas cards with most having a Christian theme. The greeting Happy Holidays was the exception rather than the rule. And we even said “Merry Christmas” to our Jewish friends, who responded with a cheerful “Happy Hanukah”. The feeling of “peace on earth and goodwill toward men” was shared by everyone and all enjoyed the pageantry and the spirit in the air.
School sponsored Christmas plays and church pageants abounded with children actively performing in colorful costumes supporting the theme. Carols were sung, the Christ Child was honored, and the role of Santa was always placed in a secondary position.
Afterward, Christmas cookies, assorted other goodies, and colorful red and green punches were served to performers and parents alike. Also available in ample supply were rich, creamy hot chocolate and tangy hot apple cider to warm the body on a cold night. As the lights were dimmed, colored lights and candles bathed shiny decorations, producing beautiful images in many colors on the ceiling and walls. The cheerful voices of children laughing and people chatting were heard in combination with the wonderful aromas of the many offerings of food and drink.
Even commercial businesses and retail shops honored Him. Religious decorations abounded in department stores and crosses were routinely seen affixed to buildings and on water and radio towers. The sight brought a thrill up my spine. It was as if Jesus was standing beside me.
I miss those wonderful times and pray that somehow we Americans will have a rebirth of the real Christmas spirit.
“Dear Lord, Help us to be reborn of the spirit of Christmas celebrations past which honored Jesus’ birth. Let us not be swayed by secularism but remain steadfast in our commitment to the true meaning of the birth of The Son of God. Give us the wisdom and courage to be unafraid to speak the truth and use our influence to help return Christmas to its real meaning, the birth of our Savior. In His name we ask, Amen.”