Friday, December 19, 2008

For Better or Worse

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve written anything seriously. The plain truth is that I have been somewhat under the weather and have just not had much to seriously contemplate. Even my sermons these past couple of weeks have been, in my own opinion, completely lacking in substance. Maybe they’ve been adequate at least for some, but I certainly didn’t walk away feeling very good about any of it.

It doesn’t help much that we are in the midst of the Christmas season which is, for most, a joyous and happy time. Not so much for me, though. I’m not a Scrooge or a Grinch, but I am more of a quiet, “Silent Night” sort of person who likes a home that is tastefully decorated for Christmas with maybe some candles burning here and there, a faint and almost imperceptible, glowing flicker of light but not the loud, flashing, multi-colored lights that challenge a city’s power grid. The hustle-and-bustle I absolutely loathe. The mindless spending and grabbing and buying and selling I detest.

I am even at an awkward place geographically that will require that I spend virtually the entire holiday season on the road driving from one end of the state to the other if I want to see everyone in the family, some I’ve not seen in at least a year. Truth be told, it matters more to my wife than to me because I am not a “this is what Christmas is all about” kind of guy. Christmas is about Christ, pure and simple. It is about the New Covenant that the Lord God has offered to all of mankind. It is a promise He has made to us all, and we repay Him by twisting and turning this holy day into anything but a holy day. Christmas is now exactly what we have made it to be.

It is amusing to me that so many “militants” will demand that Christ be put back into Christmas, but these same people will not be in churches on Christmas Eve and certainly not on Christmas Day because they have other plans. Oh, there are exceptions as there must always be, of course, but far too many have re-created for themselves a new Winter Solstice with Christmas being merely incidental, not the other way around.

Experts have suggested that there is no way Jesus could have been born in December, that He was likely born in May or June based on what is written in Scripture and maybe a few other sources of information. If this is true, or if December 25 can even be absolutely ruled out, then let the Church return to the time closest to that of the actual birth date of Jesus and “retake” (as my militant friends would say) Christmas for what it is supposed to be: the celebration of the birth of Christ.

I remain convinced that people are leaving the Church overall not because one church is lacking this or the other church is lacking that but because the Church is not a consistent voice of integrity. Too many churches have helped the Church Universal to compromise its moral integrity and authority by bowing to the whims and wishes of a people at large who have no idea what they really want or need, so they bend and sway according to the latest trends or go running to the church with the shiniest baubles. And they are always unsettled because fads fade in favor of something else, anything else so long as it is different.

For these who bend and sway, the foundation they sorely lack – but sorely need - is constantly shifting and is never stable. A sudden shift to the right or to the left they might notice and even resist, but subtle changes made almost imperceptibly over time will help them to shift right or left according to design of the entertainment or the skilled leader. Think about it: how can a nation as the US, which claims to be over 80% Christian, be so mindlessly consumed at Christmas about everything except Christ-mass? The so-called “commercialism” is only being noticed this year because so many have lost, or are losing, jobs and homes and cars and … and ….

For the sake of reclaiming what was once the holiest day of the Christian calendar, this economic melt-down could not have come at a better time. My prayer is that we may see this time not as a curse but as the True Blessing we’ve been lacking for so long.

No comments: