OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (BP)–Like many of you, one of my favorite Christmas carols is “Silent Night.” It is so calming and reassuring. I realize that most of our songs tend to set the Christmas story in a pristine and sterile environment, but I do admit loving the line that declares, “sleep in heavenly peace.”
I suspect the cave into which our Savior was born was not a quiet place. The little town of Bethlehem was teeming with people from all over Israel. The census required them to go to their ancestral town. Inns were overflowing and every home was full of relatives.
I doubt the baby was surrounded by peace and quiet. He was laid in the manger, where nearby there were bawling cattle, bleating sheep and neighing donkeys. The Prince of Peace was born into a noisy world. While the taverns were overflowing and families were enjoying aunts, uncles and cousins, the God-man was born and placed in a cattle trough. He was unnoticed and ignored by all but the shepherds.
Today, our noisy and self-absorbed culture continues to ignore the significance of the Christmas event. In fact, we are very close not only to ignoring the central figure of Christmas but also abandoning the very idea of Christmas itself.
I suspect you are as angry as I am that some stores have moved from greeting people with a “Merry Christmas.” Instead, employees are instructed to say “Happy Holidays.” Merchants have forever secularized and commercialized the grandest of celebrations. Now they seek to totally abandon and, with an in-your-face approach, strip every hint that this is a sacred and holy time. Christianity continues to slide into obscurity in our culture. Despite our big buildings, big budgets and megachurches, the culture becomes increasingly secular.
Even secularists can’t acknowledge Christmas without affirming the reality of CHRISTmas. So they stop speaking the word. But from the founding of this nation, Christmas has been a time of celebrating the Christ Child. America, founded by Christ-honoring leaders, has always acknowledged the holy day of Christmas. Yes, I can hear the ACLU and other liberals complaining that we should not propagate religion — but acknowledging is not propagating.
I do have a suggestion. If you object to Christmas, then do not take a day off from work; just ignore the whole event. Stick by your convictions. Don’t give or sell gifts, because Christmas doesn’t exist.
Bethlehem was not the only place a noisy people ignored the meaning and significance of Christmas. Our culture does the same. But the most important question is not for the culture, but for the Christian. Will we become so caught up in our going, giving and celebrating that we forget the real meaning of Christmas?
Slow down. Look beyond the noise. Find a quiet place and consider the Christ Child, the Prince of Peace. Give Him room in your heart and celebration. Spend less and love more. Let our complaining of busyness and fatigue fade, and lift our voices in praise to the newborn King. Come down long enough to sing “Silent Night” and experience its peace and comfort. You will be glad you did.
Anthony Jordan is executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.