I’ve been taking flak from Christians who are too holy to celebrate Christmas. They don’t even want to defend it from the atheists. (See my News With Views column, “Atheists Gunning for Christmas, Again”–scroll down a little, and you’ll find it posted under “Lee’s Twitter.”) I am informed by a few of them that because I celebrate Christmas, that makes me some kind of pagan.
But the reason for celebrating Christmas is so simple, even the self-righteous should be able to understand it. We celebrate Christmas as a way of proclaiming to the world the birth of Christ, the Incarnation, as an event in history–that is, something that really happened.
The Bible doesn’t give us the date. Yeah, yeah, save your breath–I already know the Church, many centuries ago, chose December 25 as a means of co-opting the pagans’ winter whatsit holiday. Any other date would do as well.
Why do we give presents and decorate our homes? To express our joy that Christ is come into the world, and make it a joyful occasion. If the presents and the decorations become an end in themselves, then that’s a problem–but isn’t it entirely up to us to see that that doesn’t happen?
Has Christmas in our time become so commercialized, so bastardized, as to be almost a pagan celebration? Well, yes, of course–but only because we Christians have let it happen. But the solution to that problem is hardly to ignore Christmas and give a victory to the ungodly in taking it over.
Look, if you’re too holy to do Christmas, fine, God speed you. But please don’t bug me with that stuff about the pristine purity of the Early Church. If you think the 1st century Church was pure and perfect, re-read Paul’s Epistles. The Galatians had him practically tearing his hair out, and he winds up writing to the Corinthians, “Don’t make me come down there with a stick!”
Folks, don’t get this wrong. Atheists don’t sue to abolish Christmas because they want to get rid of Santa and Jingle Bells and candy canes. They do it to get rid of Jesus Christ. Maybe some of you can’t see the connection anymore between Jesus Christ and Christmas, but Christ’s enemies sure do.