Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Meaning of Christmas

I stole this photo from a friend...this is the beauty of where we live!
My husband always writes a “Christmas Letter” to enclose with the Christmas cards we send out…I have mixed feelings about that. I do enjoy getting such letters from other families, but the one I enjoyed the most, for years, was from a friend of my husband’s whom I had never yet. He would include such details as, “I admit I did not floss regularly this year. However, I did make it to the dentist for my 6-month check-up. The hygienist scolded me for not flossing.” Or, “We made a major change this year: we have chosen a new brand of shampoo.” I'd like to write one like that some year!

Anyway, I went to the local Bi-Mart the other day in search of Christmas cards, because it is that time of the year when my husband is champing at the bit to get those cards addressed, stamped, and mailed, with the Christmas Letter inside!

I have bought Christmas cards at Bi-Mart for years. I ignore the ones with Santa on the front, and the ones that only mention “Christmas wishes”, and the ones that tell us the meaning of Christmas is “family” or “peace” or some such thing. I choose the ones that have the Holy Family on the front, the typical nativity scene; and those usually include a verse from Scripture as well. These things are a must!

But this year in Bi-Mart, there was not one single box of cards with a nativity scene, or even a mention of the name of Our Lord. Not one. I found one box of cards with the three wise men on their camels on the front, and inside there was a mention of the “one who came at Christmas” or something like that – clearly a reference to Our Lord, yes, but with no scripture, and no Name.

Why am I surprised? Well, we live in a small, rural town, and I would venture to guess that a sizable majority of the folks who live here are Christians. Why would our local Bi-Mart choose not to stock real Christmas cards?! I asked the checker, and she said someone else had complained about the same thing.

It really made me think about something I guess I take for granted, though: the real meaning of Christmas. It’s not really about “family” and “peace” and “happiness” and “health” – not in the way most of the secular cards are using those words, which amounts to cheap sentimentality. I know I don’t have to tell you readers what Christmas is about!
But it made me think about the people who buy “Happy Holidays” cards and the other secular sentimentality. What meaning does Christmas have for them? It is a meaningless holiday for the secular world. And yet, they celebrate it…and some of them try to deny Christ in the way they celebrate it!

In addition, I had a “chance” encounter with a woman from Portland while we were waiting to be seated for dinner in a local restaurant. Because I mentioned that I was Catholic, she responded – not in a defensive or offensive way – that she wasn’t “particularly religious”. She said, “I like your pope, though…I don’t know how you feel about him.” And she smiled slightly. I said I had a few problems with some of the things he’s said, and she smiled again and said, “Well, the politics are a little different here than they are in Portland.” Ha! Did she hit that one on the head: the secular supporters of Francis simply see him as a prop for their liberal political agenda; there is no spiritual meaning for them.

I wondered what meaning life has for someone like that. And what meaning Christmas could possibly have, other than being a feel-good, pretty-lights, cozy-hot-chocolate kind of season.
It’s sad, how lost the world is – isn’t it?

But Advent is full of hope, and looking forward as we prepare the way of the Lord. We can pray for a good many conversions through the contact the unbelievers have with Christ through Christmas.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

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