Christmas Peace

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat / Please put a penny in the old man’s hat / if you haven’t got a penny then a hay-penny will do / if you haven’t got a hay-penny, then God bless you

If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?

Let’s get one thing out of the way right at the start; I’m not a heresy hunter out to get the cute Christmas song. I sing the song; I’ll even sing it in rounds if I can convince others to join me.

But in thinking about Christmas, it seems evident to me that Christians are not supposed to be the kind of people who look at the person without the hay-penny and simply pass by with a wish for God’s blessings, regardless of how heartfelt the wish. Christians are the blessing. If Jesus was the gift to the needy world at the first Christmas, we are the gift to the needy world at all subsequent Christmases.

And one thing is sure: we’re not just the gift to the spiritually needy world. It’s absolute hypocrisy to rant about the “war on Christmas,” and extol the need for clear gospel presentations throughout the season, and even to get excited about the increased opportunity for sharing the gospel during this season, while we neglect the physical needs of the people around us. Christmas is not about some vague spiritual need; it’s the moment in time when “the Word became flesh.” If anything, Christmas is the exact opposite of a purely “spiritual” thing; it’s the time when the spiritual entered the physical. In our (failed) attempts to take Christmas back from “materialism,” we’ve over-spiritualized it.

If, at the first Christmas, God sent His Son for His own enemies, what does this imply for His people? If we spend our Christmastime in a war against our perceived enemies (those who have this so-called anti-Christmas agenda), are we following the lead of God’s sending His Son?

I have to say, I agree with Joe Carter on this one: Let ‘Em Have X-mas. The baby Jesus was born in lowly, unnoticeable conditions over 2,000 years ago, and His story has shaped the entire world. So we who follow this quietly born baby that no one noticed, should also be quietly, humbly, and sacrificially serving the world around us at Christmas time. Put down the trumpets of the culture war, get out of the media, and incarnate mercy and grace to those who need it. That is how to celebrate Christmas in a way that is faithful to that first Christmas day.

The call was to “peace on earth” through Jesus, not culture wars about what the retail stores should say when their customers enter and leave the store.


~ by Travis on December 24, 2006.

One Response to “Christmas Peace”

  1. I agree deeply with you. Thanks for articulating it so well.

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