Two different celebrations – Christmas

By Dave Henning / November 20, 2022

“Christmas is the only Christian holy day that is also a major secular holiday — arguably our culture’s biggest.  The result is two different celebrations. . . .  This brings some discomfort on both sides.  Many Christians can’t help but notice that more and more of the public festivities surrounding Christmas studiously avoid any references to its Christian origins.”- Timothy Keller

In his Introduction to Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ, Timothy Keller notes the increasingly secular view of Christmas our society embraces.  Therefore, store background music features songs like ‘Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas’.  Rather than ‘Joy to the World’.  As a result, current culture promotes Christmas as a time for family, for giving, and for peace in the world.

However, people who espouse no religious belief find traditional Christmas carols an uninvited intrusion.  Yet, as a commercial gold mine, Christmas remains entrenched as a secular festival.  Hence, Rev. Keller fears that the true roots of Christmas will become more and more hidden to most people.

And those roots include the emphasis on light in darkness, gift-giving, and concern for the needy.  But, Rev. Keller underscores, each of these powerful themes is a two-edged sword.  For example, Jesus comes as the Light.  Because we’re too spiritually blind to find our own way.  Consequently, Rev. Keller asserts, “Christ, like God himself, is both more wondrous and more threatening than we can imagine.”

In conclusion, the author observes, the essentials of faith sometimes become visible, even when most participants are nonreligious.  Perhaps they hear the famous Christmas carol “Hark!  The Herald Angels Sing’ at the mall, in a grocery store, or on a street corner.  Above all, this carol, using a brilliant economy of style, summarizes the entire Christian doctrine.

Therefore, when you understand Christmas, you understand basic Christianity – the Gospel.  At this time of year, secular society and the Christian church, to a degree, think about the same thing.

Today’s question: Do you feel the discomfort of Christmas as two different celebrations?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Unless Jesus is our Light”

About the author

Dave Henning

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