Breaking the Holiday Code – Tis the Season 5

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host
appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest,
      and on earth peace to men on whom his favor
rests." Luke 2:13&14

"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace
to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to
  " 'a man against his father,
      a daughter against her mother,
      a daughter-in-law against her
mother-in-law –
      a man's enemies will be the members
of his own household. Matthew 10:34-36

The Advent of Jesus Christ
has become the season where political correctness and materialism combine to
obfuscate the purposes of God. This time of the year, according to Western
tradition, is supposed to be a time of family, peace and hope. The role of
Jesus Christ in all of this, from a cultural standpoint, has all but vanished.
The words of the angels have been misunderstood to say that the coming of
Christ means peace for all. But a careful reading of these words says something
quite different. The triumphant chorus proclaimed peace to those who were
favored by God
. In other words, the troubles of this world can only be
resolved by knowing the favor of God. Since the world has been at war with God
since the time of the Fall (Ephesians 2:1-3), someone would have to make peace
with God in order to obtain the favor of God. That someone was and is Jesus
Christ. Peace, then, is not for everyone, but only those who know the grace of
God. For peace to occur, war has to be waged. This war had been promised since
the garden. There God made a promise to Adam and Eve, and at the same time he pronounced
judgment on Satan. He said Satan would strike the heel of Eve’s offspring but
then the Lord of Creation would crush the head of Satan. Thus Jesus would make
peace and war at the same time. The statements in Luke 2 and Matthew 10 are not
contradictory. They are two sides of the same coin. On Earth, peace never
occurs unless a war has been won. In Luke, the angels are announcing the
triumph of the victor, Jesus Christ, who would triumph at the cross. In
Matthew, Jesus states his mission to bring the war necessary for peace.

Over time, traditional
greetings initially became code words for the reality and necessity of war to bring
peace. "Merry Christmas" meant that there was reason for joy for
God’s people. The Christmas carols themselves, if you sing all of their verses,
speak eloquently of this war. The Peace of Christmas was won at a horrible
price. Over time the meaning behind the code faded. Merry Christmas and other
similar phrases now refer only to a temporal season and human perspectives. As
the true meaning of the Advent has been lost in tradition, political
correctness began to attack the code words. So "Merry Christmas" has become
"Happy Holidays" or "Season’s Greetings." Christmas Day has
been lumped together with New Years Day to produce The Holidays. Of course,
once Christmas Day has passed, it is now politically correct to say Happy New
Year instead of Happy Holidays.

Materialism now provides
the energy for much of the cultural holiday spirit. In the last post we looked
at what constitutes true gift giving. Sadly, much of the gift giving of the
culture has to do with the seeking of atonement and the purchase of
relationships through giving gifts. Since many retailers don’t want to offend
potential buyers, the new code words of holidays and seasons
dominate the advertising themes of the season.

Your children hear the loud
noises of the culture. Help them to see that the true meaning of Christ’s
advent is much more than exchanging Merry Christmas for Happy Holidays. The joy
of Christmas flows from a battle that was won. Peace has emerged from a war
waged and won by the Lord Jesus. Yes, he came as a baby. But then he grew up to
wage and win the most terrible war of all time. The sinless, pure, holy,
blameless Son of God, endured the most terrible weapon ever unleashed, the
wrath of God the Father. He not only endured, he triumphed and won the most
powerful of victories. So, Merry Christmas truly means joy because Jesus won
the war to bring peace and thus gave to his people the most precious of all
gifts – eternal life!

Break the code of holiday
phrases for your children. Help them to see why Christians have real reason for
joy at the advent of Christ. This joy is to last not just for a season, but for
eternity. May God grant you the wisdom and courage to present the joy of the
coming of Christ as the Bible does.


Shepherd Press