In December of 1914 in the first bitter winter of a long bitter war the solders of the German Empire and the soldiers of the British Empire defied the orders of their officers.  They abandoned their hastily dug entrenchments that would soon grow into an elaborate maze of trenches stretching from Switzerland to the English Channel to meet each other in no man’s land. They sang hymns and exchanged gifts in a spontaneous outpouring of the feelings of peace, fellowship, and forgiveness which were then the staples of a Christ-centered Christmas season. 

In the midst of the War to End War these enemies found peace in the love of their Savior.  Can we at least hope that in the midst of what feels like a terminally divided America if we would take His hand, if we would follow Him maybe we could do the same? 

The season for which He is the reason is upon us so let us reflect: 

If you drench yourself in the torrent of Christmas movies that bombard us from Thanksgiving till December 25th you see that the spirit of Christmas in emotional America isn’t about the Christ child who came into a lost world to die as a payment for sin and to rise again to bring new life in harmony with God.  It is instead about the sentimental ideal of love and the boy gets the girl or is it the girl gets the boy?  Who knows sometimes they throw in a curve that really builds the suspense.  There are movies about Santa Clause, his sons, his daughters; his elves and wingless angels all of whom help people learn the true meaning of Christmas which is never about Christ and always about family and friends and being nice people. 

In our highly commercialized America Christmas is about Black Friday that starts on Thursday then goes for a week and discounts so deep they remind me of the street vendor in Mexico who follows you shouting “I’ll give you 110% off if you buy two!”  The Chia Pets come out along with snuggies, pet rocks, and every other doodad imaginable to buy for people who already have too much. 

The mountains of presents which obscenely bury Christmas trees in so many American homes are ripped apart by sugar-high children. Children who get into a frenzy of getting so intense they never have time to appreciate what they get. All they want is to get something else.  The beautiful wrapping paper, the miles of ribbon, and the forests of bows are stuffed the next day unceremoniously into big green garbage bags on their way to landfills.   

We hear and see the refrain, “Jesus is the reason for the season,” from those who try to stand against the tide.  If we do or say anything to question the Madison Avenue, Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, tinsel, twinkling lights, Santa’s on the roof, and do reindeers really know how to fly presentation of a holiday on steroids we are accused of being a Grinch. 

The following sums up the tension between Christmas and Xmas for me: 

Shortly after I gave my life to Jesus I was moving to another part of the country and I decided to spend my last Christmas with relatives in the old home place.  When I walked in the door I was greeted by a small committee who knew of my new found devotion with the command, “Don’t ruin Christmas with a bunch of Jesus.” 

Sometimes the words of others can express our own feelings as well or better than we can do ourselves.  For me personally of all the contemporary Christian artists which help make my life livable Casting Crowns most closely expresses my thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.  And although this isn’t technically a Christmas song it gives voice to the faith that for me truly makes Jesus the reason for the season:  

Jesus, Friend of Sinners 

Jesus, friend of sinners, we have strayed so far away
We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing
Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth's become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You but they're tripping over me
Always looking around but never looking up I'm so double minded
A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided 

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours 

Yeah 

Jesus, friend of sinners, the one who's writing in the sand
Make the righteous turn away and the stones fall from their hands
Help us to remember we are all the least of thieves
Let the memory of Your mercy bring Your people to their knees
No one knows what we're for only against when we judge the wounded
What if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and loved like You did 

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours 

You love every lost cause; you reach for the outcast
For the leper and the lame; they're the reason that You came
Lord I was that lost cause and I was the outcast
But you died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at Your feet 

'Cause You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever
You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever
You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever
You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever 

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks Yours 

And I was the lost 'cause and I was the outcast
Yeah
You died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at Your feet 

To make sense of His birth we must look also to His death, His resurrection, and to the fact the He will come again. 

Or as Casting Crowns puts it in the remake of a classic: 

Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He's coming
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day  

So from me to you:  Merry Christmas…oh glorious day indeed. 

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