This past week I have been discussing Christmas with my students. It goes without say that they are having as much difficulty staying in their seats and focusing on sentence structures as a puppy would keeping a biscuit on his nose. But because I believe they need depth in order to mature as individuals, I took the time to lead them to a deeper understanding of the meaning behind Christmas. In the process, I learned a few new things myself.
When a student asked me, “Which Christmas do you want me to write about?” I realized that there really are two different Christmases vying for our attention. There is the Christmas that acknowledges Jesus with His angel helpers, the stable and sheep, and His family; then there is the Christmas that celebrates Santa with his elf helpers, his workshop and reindeer, and Mrs. Claus. It is certainly the latter that garners the squeals of delight from excited children and has a repertoire of songs flooding the airwaves and the shopping malls. The problem isn’t with Santa or Rudolph. The problem is that we are being pressured to believe in them and push Jesus out.
Think about it for a moment. As our children memorize Rudolph’s melody, watch light parades, receive holiday greetings and write letters to Santa, Who are they not thinking about? I had my students watch a clip from THE NATIVITY STORY followed by a clip from THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST. Seeing the infant face, so tender and innocent and then seeing the agonized face of the crucified Savior bloodied with the sins of the world, helped us all recognize the sobering beauty of Christmas.
In my living room, I have all of my nativity scenes displayed on the same table. Each one emphasizes a different perspective of Christmas – the angels, the shepherds, the Wise Men, and the Holy Family. Together they symbolize the intricacies of God’s plan to save mankind and pour out His love upon a corrupt and broken world. The manger leads to a cross, the cross to a tomb, and the tomb to a relationship with the Risen Savior. If we don’t remember the whole story, then this Christmas is no different than an empty tale about the North Pole.