November 25, 2006                                                          

A Call to Christmas Gleaners

                             It’s now officially the Christmas season. In spite of all the marketing of America’s favorite holiday and the fact that it evolved from early Roman Catholicism’s syncretistic joining of Christianity and paganism, it can be a golden opportunity for evangelism. Christmas carols fill the malls and stores in America’s highways and byways as shoppers hum along to the familiar choruses. This is the one time of the year that Jesus Christ is celebrated by the entire world – both believers and heathen alike.

Some Christians ignore the holiday because of its pagan roots and that is understandable. But it would be a lost opportunity if in refusing to celebrate it as a religious observance, they might miss an open door to share the Truth of the Bible with the Yuletide revelers. Would it not be expedient to take advantage of the "spirit of Christmas" while it is still observed as the celebration of the birth of Christ? The handwriting is on the wall that Christmas is evolving into a totally secularized time of generic family togetherness devoid of the name of Jesus, in spite of Wal-Mart’s bucking the trend of saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas."

A lot of people write "Christmas" letters that are slipped into Christmas cards, recalling all the blessings of the year. That is one way to give glory to God who took on human flesh to redeem us from our sins. After all, family and friends love to read these remembrances at this time of year, though they might ignore any such letter any other time.

We have conversation starters that we would never have on Halloween or Flag Day. Some Christmas carols not only tell of the birth of the Saviour, but also focus on the coming again of the Prince of Peace to begin the Age of peace that only His return can accomplish. Consider the song, "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear."

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth
To touch their harps of gold!
"Peace on the earth, good will to men,
From heaven's all gracious King!
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.
 
Still through the cloven skies they come
With peaceful wings unfurled
And still their heavenly music floats
O'er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hovering wing.
And ever o'er its Babel sounds
The blessed angels sing.
 
Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world hath suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love song which they bring:
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing.

 

For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophet bards foretold,
When, with the ever-circling years,
Shall come the Age of Gold;
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And all the world give back the song
Which now the angels sing.

There is so much truth in these lyrics that can be shared with unbelievers.   We can say, "during a time of war, isn’t it nice to hear a song about the Prince of Peace being born in Bethlehem? Christmas tells about His first coming, yet it looks forward to His Second Coming when He will bring the world into harmony. No more war. Now that’s worth celebrating."

Other Christmas carols like "Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel" and "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" tell of Christ’s victory over the grave on our behalf and of His coming reign of peace and his incarnate deity. The carols are very theological. Think of the anthem of "Oh Holy Night" when "yonder breaks a new and glorious morn." We need to sing the less sung verses and point out their deep messages of Who Jesus is.

Even events in the news about Christmas can be used to start a conversation about Jesus. Someone last week sent me a quote from TV personality Ben Stein, a Jew who is against the attacks on the Christmas symbols in the public arena.

"Ben Stein recited on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary. ‘I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees. It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, "Merry Christmas" to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a crèche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.’"

Sadly, for Bible-believing Christians, it is getting more difficult to witness to our fellow Americans who have a distorted view of Christianity. So many evils have been committed in the name of Christ. There have been so many public scandals involving those who name the name of Christ like Ted Haggard, Paul & Jan Crouch, Jim & Tammy Bakker, and pedophile priests. All of Christianity gets lumped together. And even presidents like George Bush have done wrong while claiming Christ. As a result, the Gospel message is unpopular and politically incorrect.

Jesus gets judged by what these public figures have done in His name. Conmen on TV fleece the little old ladies out of their social security checks while they themselves live in mansions and drive Bentleys (see article on the lesser Crouches). Jesus condemned them. And these religious conmen have now conned thinking people right out of knowing the Savior of all mankind. That is a much worse con than being conned out of money -- It is the biggest con of all.

So our challenge to spread the Gospel is a harder task than in all recorded history. Christmas gives us a crack in the closed door before it is totally slammed shut. The Harvest is just about over and the time for the gleaners to go out into the highways and byways of the already harvested field is now.

♥♥♥

Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel

Oh come, Oh come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, Oh Israel.

 

Oh come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, Oh Israel.
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