Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Without Santa?

I like Santa. Even as a Christian. When my children were little we had fun with the idea of Santa. They just knew it was 'pretend'. And they knew right from the toddler stage the real reason why we celebrated Christmas....the birth of Jesus. So, Santa was just pretend and just fantasy, and that was the way my family handled it. We even sort of jokingly put cookies and milk out for Santa. I don't think my kids were fooled by it. They just went along with my craziness.

I like Christmas trees, and Christmas lights, and Christmas presents (but not Christmas shopping). I love Christmas movies. I can't count how many times we have seen the Grinch. Our house is filled with Christmas decorations, as well as Christmas cards and cookies. However, there has never been a Christmas in my house without our manger scene. My family knows the real Christmas story. And to me, all the decorations and the hype that comes with Christmas is fine, but it's just the frill - the fireworks - the confetti - for just one thing......the birth of Jesus Christ our Lord! That's what the celebration is all about.

Christmas celebration in America is extravagant when it comes to the hoopla. My question is this. Could you personally still celebrate Christmas if all the hoopla was gone? If Santa is removed, the Christmas lights are taken away, the Christmas decorations are gone, the Christmas tree is not there, and there are no presents.....could you still celebrate Christmas?

There are places in the world like that...without the frill. Just look at the situation in the Philippines right now. Because of the recent typhoon that killed approximately 4000 people, four million people are displaced from their homes! In other words...homeless! There is no extravagant frill there. In such a terrible situation, can a Christian there still celebrate Christmas?

In North Korea, don't even try to put up a Christmas tree in front of your home. Christianity there is forced underground. North Korea is one of the worst places in the world when it comes to Christian persecution. People have been given the death sentence, executed, for simply possessing a Bible! Are the Christians there, who are in secret, celebrating Christmas this year?

Recently in the news, you may have heard about Pastor Saeed Abedini. He is the Christian preacher who is currently being held in an Iranian prison, one of the worst prisons in the world, for preaching Christianity. He is an American citizen and has been in prison there since September 2012. He has been beaten and tortured in attempts to have him renounce his faith in Christ. If he would submit to that and return to Islam, then he woud be released to his wife and two small children.  He is held in the violent criminal ward, in terrible conditions, and his health is failing. Because of his beatings, he has had internal bleeding, with very little medical care or concern, if any. But throughout all that, his faith is stronger than ever. Will he celebrate Christmas this year?

Will the Christians in the Philippines and in North Korea celebrate Christmas this year? Will Saeed Abedini celebrate Christmas this year? You better believe it! That's because Christmas is the day that commemorates of the birth of Jesus - His entry in this world - and because of that, it is a very special day.  Jesus is the one who brings light into a dark world - who brings the promise of new life, even life after death. And through His life, His death, and His resurrection from the dead, and our faith in Him, we have hope and salvation. 

Maybe the question you really need to stop and consider is this..."Would I be able to celebrate Christmas, even without Santa, without the frills, without the presents, without the decorations, even if I was alone and in uncomfortable circumstances?" The answer will reveal your true heart and your true faith. 

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