During the Christmas season there is a lot of noise. That noise can make hearing Christ at Christmas very difficult.
When I was growing up in North Carolina my older brother and I would listen to the radio broadcast of the Saint Louis Blues hockey team. We would sit around my brother’s radio and try to listen to the broadcast closely to hear if our favorite player would score. This was long before the days of XM radio, digital radio, and HD radio. All we had was AM, FM and shortwave! What came with the broadcast of the games was static, And there was a lot of static. We would hear weird sounds and some crossover signals where we could here a station we didn’t want to hear. All we wanted to hear was the broadcast of the game. It was hard to hear but we would focus our attention on what we wanted to hear in such a way that we were able to ignore the noise of the other signals.
Just like my brother and I focusing on our beloved hockey broadcast, we too can focus our attention on Christ, in spite of the static and noise of Christmas. It helps to know where the noise is coming from though. And around Christmas there are plenty of contributors to the noise we hear.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 ESV
The Santa Claus noise and static
It seems that we have a lot of this noise. You know the story, A fat guy who lives at the North Pole travels the world on Christmas eve with a sleigh full of toys pulled by flying reindeer. This guy somehow makes it to every child in the world, scooting down their chimney to place just the right toys under the Christmas tree in the house. I grew up with this story and believed it for many years. I (and probably you) chuckle that I believed such a tale.
Many Christians are so upset with this tale that they will go to great lengths to debunk this myth – even to the point of insulting others. We have taught our children the meaning of Christmas is the birth of Jesus Christ. We also have frank and open discussion regarding the multiple Santa’s that are around us this time of the year. We make sure our children understand that not everyone celebrates Christmas like us. We also make sure they understand that we don’t condemn those who believe in Santa Claus but take every opportunity to share Christ.
But we don’t stop there. We talk to our children about where Santa Claus came from and the true story of Saint Nicholas. So if you want to effectively deal with the noise and static of the fat Santa Claus in a sleigh, take a little time to stress that this is the day we celebrate the birth of Christ. Also take some time to educate yourself about Saint Nicholas. Research him and tell the REAL story. It is an amazing and inspiring story.
The “This day has pagan roots” noise and static
Critics of Christians – especially those critics who are also atheists – are quick to point out that Jesus was probably not born in December. They are also quick to point out that December 25th has roots in pagan religions. Some Christians react poor to this. Some will deny any such connection to paganism. They’ll huff and puff and get red in the face. They’l deny, deny, and then deny some more. They’ll protest claiming a great conspiracy trying to rob Christ of His birthday. What should our response be to this if or when it comes up?
Once again education is the Christian’s friend here. December 25th was celebrated as a pagan holiday long before Christians made any claim to it being Christ’s birthday. That is simply a fact. We have reams of evidence for this. Google it sometime and you’ll see it for yourself. Also Jesus probably wasn’t born on December 25th. We don’t know for sure the date of His birthday but the evidence in Scripture appears to lend credibility to the idea that He was born sometime in the Spring.
So what should we do with this information? Should we abandon December 25th as Jesus’ birthday celebration? What should we do?
Well first i think we should admit the fact that December 25th was a pagan holiday. That is just a fact. But I don’t think we should abandon it as the celebration date of Jesus’ birthday. This date is the one we set aside to celebrate His birthday. I don’t think there is anything wrong with designating it His birthday celebration, especially since any date we designate will be just a guess. This plus the fact that this date has been celebrated as His birthday for such a long time that at some point we should give a nod to tradition. Again, while this noise can be loud, focus on Christ and don’t interfere with those who want to criticize.
The consumerism noise and static
This noise is particularly difficult in the United States. I recently read somewhere that the average American spends over $700.00 (US) per person for gifts. Yikes, for a family my size that would come out to $6300.00 (US) every year! I don’t have that kind of money to spend on gifts that will soon be neglected and forgotten. We have made Christmas much more about getting stuff rather than Christ – at least we have in the United States. My wife and I wrestled with this question a number of years ago. What we came up with may not work for everyone but it does work for us to be able to ignore the noise of “You have to buy this for Christmas!” mantra that is chanted every November/December.
We practice a type of minimalist Christmas. Now what do I mean by that? What is a “minimalist” Christmas?
Well, what we do is we draw names in our family. Once we have done that we have a rule that we enforce regarding presents: each person who gives a gift must make that gift with their hands. They can buy the parts they need, but they must put it together with their hands. Normally we’ll buy one family gift and we do buy some stocking stuffers for them, but we don’t go crazy spending thousands of dollars on gifts. After all, we are not celebrating their birthdays…we are celebrating Jesus birthday.
So what now? What about all this noise and static at Christmas?
Though ignoring the noise and static I wrote about is much easier said than done, it is possibe. In our family, filtering out that noise and static has made Christmas a much more meaningful time for us. Christmas is much more enjoyable because we focus on the reason for Christmas rather than simply buying something for someone.
The very best we can do at Christmas to filter out the noise and static – not just the ones I named but also other sources – is to focus our attention on Christ. Just like my brother and I did all those years ago with the St. Louis Blues where we focused so much on those that we wanted to know about, so too about Christ and Christmas. If Jesus is as important as we say He is, there should be no difficulty focusing on Him.
In spite of the noise of Santa, paganism and consumerism, we can hear Christ clearly by making Him the most important part of this noisy holiday – tune into Christ. Focus on Christ. Focus on the eternal.
And have yourself a very Merry Christmas.