Christmas-bah-humbug! At least that seems to be the growing sentiment in Western society.
While the earliest mention of the commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ comes to us from the pen of Origin (200 A.D.), and while Sextus Julius Africanus popularized December 25th as the date of the birth of the Savior as early as 221 A.D., there is, in our day, a concerted effort to sanitize the holiday removing any and all references to the very reason for our celebration.
The trend began when references to Christ were banned from public property as the ACLU brought suit after suit against municipalities that dared erect manger scenes on publicly owned properties.
It wasn't long until our public school systems got involved. The first step away from the holiday came in a simple name change: public schools were forced to drop the traditional Christmas Break for a more politically correct "Winter Holiday." Along with this step came the banning of Christmas carols from public school Christmas programs.
It got worse. In New York City schools where children are forced to learn about Hanukkah, Kwanza, Islamic alternatives to Christmas, any reference to Christmas itself has been banned.
This has gone as far as an official edit that bans the use of Christ from any of the traditional songs or symbols. For instance school officials are allowed to display holiday trees but not Christmas trees. Students are forbidden to sing such secular songs as "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."
The words of that popular song have been sanitized so as not to offend anyone other then Christians as the children are forced to sing "We Wish You a Happy Holiday."
The lunacy has gone so far as to forbid decorating in red or green because they are traditional Christmas colors, and the idea is that somehow or other the very colors might cause offense if someone even thinks of Christmas.
Now businesses have gotten in on the action. Many businesses refuse to identify products or special sales as Christmas items and staff members are prohibited from uttering the words "Merry Christmas" to customers so as not to offend anyone.
Excuse me, but this is just plain ridiculous. I don't get upset if someone wishes me a happy Hanukkah nor do I get bent out of shape when I hear my Muslim friends talking about celebrating Ramadan nor have I approached businesses or threatened a lawsuit if someone wished me a Happy Halloween or put up a display with which I might happen to disagree.
So why the big hubbub over Christmas? Because even though its been some 2000 years now, Jesus still intimidates people. We don't want to hear about this one whose very claims are confrontational; this one who claimed not to be speaking for God as religious leaders over the years have done, but claimed to be speaking as God.
We don't want to deal with the implications of it all so we turn from a savior to Santa, from the great gift of satisfaction that he offers to substitute gifts that can never fully satisfy and we turn from the eternal life and embrace a temporal existence doing all we can to deny the reality of what he claimed.
When all is said and done, it seems that most would rather cut off their own nose in spite of their face, rather than smell the sweet savor of the world's only real hope.
You may call it happy holiday if you want, but understand, without the Christ of Christmas, there would not even be a holiday.
Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church. Write him in care of the church at 11677 Brown Bridge Road Covington, GA, 30016. Send e-mail to email@example.com