Not for a long time has the world seemed so removed from the angelic proclamation of 2,000 years ago: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men" (Luke 2:14).
Millions have died in countless wars over the last 100 years. People continue to die today as the result of worldwide terrorism and daily shootings in too many American cities.
The prophecy delivered by the Christmas Child that there would be "wars and rumors of wars" until He comes again, seems more like current events than a far-off future.
One hears a lot of silliness from theological illiterates and institutions whose sole interest in Christmas appears to be profit. Consider the conspicuous consumption associated with "Black Friday," a day that began for some businesses days earlier.
People speak of "the spirit of Christmas," or when observing some special act with which they approve or seek to inspire, refer to "the true meaning of Christmas." They are never asked what they mean by either.
The true meaning of Christmas is this: God took on the form of a human to die in our place, paying for our sins, so that humans who receive Him might be forgiven and be with Him forever.
You are free to reject that message and the One who delivered it, but what you are not free to do is to redefine or change the message into something that fits your own beliefs and choices.
In "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" (part of his classic "The Chronicles of Narnia" series), C.S. Lewis writes of a frozen land ruled by a "White Witch," devoid of hope. In that world, it is "always winter, but never Christmas."
It is a metaphor for a world that has rejected God and His redemptive power. It is a world where humans choose to live as they please, rather than be transformed, even renewed. It is this world in which we now live, full of mendacity, envy, greed, lust, anger, terrorism, war, political divisions and confusion. We have forgotten who we are, because we have forgotten Whose we are.
It is these and so many other human deficiencies the Christ child came to reset. Like a gift under a tree, however, the transaction is not complete until the one for whom the gift is intended receives it. If anyone refuses a gift, the transaction is incomplete, its purpose thwarted. Does it matter that so many reject Him? Look around and consider the result.
While some point to the occasional violence mistakenly done in His name to "prove" God does not exist, there are far more examples of good, such as charities, hospitals and inner-city missions that help the poor and homeless. If the bad disproves God, what does the good prove?
These good acts rooted in faith are motivated not by selfishness, but selflessness, the kind of selflessness demonstrated by the One who left perfection and emptied Himself, taking on the form of a servant, to come to a fallen world and save us from the consequences of unbelief.
Isn't that message worth celebrating? Isn't that child worth worshipping? Isn't that Man worth receiving?
As the carol says, "Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in."
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