In the Christmas carol, “We Three Kings of Orient Are”, we are told of the long and perilous journey the Magi undertook in order to come and worship the newborn King of the Jews. They naturally assumed that the king would be born in a royal palace. Once they are told where to go, King Herod tells them to go and find the details and come and tell him. He is busy with other royal things so that he cannot trouble himself with the trip.
In many of our churches, we find that many spouses (mostly the husbands) are encouraging their wives and children to attend church because church is good for them. They want their wives to continue to be religious, they want their children to learn some of the Biblical morals, but they are staying home to do yard work, read their favorite newspaper, or sometimes just rest.
More recently, I have been hearing from people who for their Christmas celebration are traveling to the Bahamas, Disney World, or Vail. The Christmas holiday has become a tourism boom and church people are traveling in these directions. Now many of these places have chapels and Christmas services, but few are traveling there for the Christmas festivities.
The Christmas celebration in American culture has turned into a war every year. The presence of Christmas trees or crèches in public areas makes some residents uncomfortable; schools are no longer allowed to use the term Christmas break because it is considered a Christian imposition; greeting with Merry Christmas is stopped by many business; and many commercial advertisements are trying to reduce the number of people who are still thinking that the greatest meaning of Christmas is not falling in love, family get togethers, or the exchange of gifts, but celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the world’s Savior.
Many years ago, I stopped complaining because I think that what is important is to learn from the shepherds who “returned , glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they have been told (Luke 2:20).” I think that we waste too much energy in reaction versus action. We are fighting against all sorts of things that do not go our way that by the time Christmas Eve arrives, we are so tired that we barely can stay awake. My decision is to look at all the positive things that are taking place. I rejoice at all the things that happen. I rejoice at the music that is in the air and at the fact that some radio stations call themselves Christmas music stations. I rejoice at seeing thousands of people who prepare music singing the birth of Jesus – from well-known Christmas carols, to glorious pieces such as Handel’s Messiah, or more recent carols that we are still trying to learn how to sing. I rejoice with high school and college choirs who are singing some of this majestic music for the first time. I am so filled with energy that on Christmas Eve, after we have had a Worship Service in our church, we visit another church to celebrate with them. It has become a holy tradition in our family started with one kid, and now joined by all the kids and their friends who happen to be in our house for Christmas.
I am fully convinced that what the world needs to see during the Christmas holiday is not more complaining Christians, but Christians, like the shepherds, coming from our worship services glorifying and praising God for all the things that we have heard and seen because like them, we have seen and worshipped Jesus Christ, who has become our salvation, hope, and joy.