FIRST-PERSON: Let's revitalize Christmas

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (BP)--Christmas is falling on some hard times. No, I am not referring to the economic downturn, which has vexed America and much of the rest of the world. Indeed that is a major concern, but it is not the greatest issue at stake concerning Christmas.

All of my life, I have heard people bemoan the fact that Christmas has been overly commercialized. I have preached my share of sermons excoriating this ungodly trend. I have challenged people for years "to keep Christ in Christmas."

In my childhood days, nothing related to Christmas was advertised until after Thanksgiving. Now, the day after Halloween, the stores are flooded with Christmas sales. Thanksgiving has blurred into a prolonged Christmas season in the marketplace. There is very little thanks given when sales are to be made.

Yet to continue playing the game of "ain't it awful what they have done to Christmas" may be a cop-out. After all, we contribute to the commercialization of Christmas. We are a part of the supposed problem of abuse that the Christmas season has experienced.

Another trend has become a reality in recent years concerning Christmas, namely the marginalization of it by culture. "Merry Christmas" has morphed into "Happy Holidays." This is a tragic commentary on our increasingly secular society. Political correctness is ostracizing the meaning of Christmas. For fear of offending people, many in the marketplace and public arena just take the softer and more generic approach of emphasizing "Happy Holidays."

My simple contention is that Christmas ought to be revitalized. A revitalization of Christmas will not come from Wall Street, main street, the malls, or the halls of Congress and the state legislature. The chatter of talking heads on news programs will not make this a reality. Christmas is a Christ-centered experience for all believers to realize personally. Christmas has meaning because Christ is the Meaning-Giver! When Christ changes our lives in a revolutionary and responsible way, then Christmas becomes light in the darkest of worlds.

This year, my wife and I decided to make our largest gift ever to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. It was one significant way to say we believe in the saving message of Jesus Christ. "The Word has become flesh and dwelled among us" (John 1:14). He is Immanuel: "God with us." His is Good News for all the world. This is a tangible effort to help to revitalize Christmas. We have done it not for show, but because we believe Christ is our Lord. He is the Meaning-Giver to life and to Christmas! This may be a small step, but we believe it is a step in the right direction.


Rick Lance is a state missionary and executive director with the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions. This article originally was posted at www.RickLance.com.