Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.
Is this the most Christ-less Christmas in our lifetime? Perhaps. In early September, when retail stores began filling aisles with Christmas merchandise of all stripes, there was a noticeably small selection of nativity-related items, or in the case of several large retail stores I regularly visit, a complete absence. Maybe, somewhere along our journey, the quiet road to Bethlehem was simply replaced by the latest and greatest distractions. The newest smartphone. Hallmark movies. Air fryers. Anything Amazon.
Maybe we’re losing our way. Maybe something’s just not right.
Most Americans are feeling it too. A December Ipsos poll reveals 75% of those surveyed agree Americans have forgotten the real meaning of Christmas. Interestingly, the same poll revealed 20 out of 21 of the most annoying Christmas songs are those with no connection to the real meaning of Christmas. Think, for example, All I Want For Christmas Is You, Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer, Santa Baby, and yes – all Alvin and the Chipmunk songs. Sort of ironic, really, that in the midst of our darkening culture, even the songs presumed to elevate our holiday cheer are actually driving us up a wall, like a sugar overload set to music.
Christmas is meant to be so much more.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
So, is it the most Christ-less Christmas? It’s really a trick question. The answer is no, because all the distractions in the world can never remove Christ from the celebration of His birth. He’s not a myth, not a made-up hero created to advance religion and control of the masses. Far from it.
Christmas calls us all to a real moment in time, a remembrance of when the God of the universe left the glory of heaven to take upon Himself the flesh of man, first as an unborn child nurtured in His mother’s womb, then as a newborn baby whose tiny cries broke the silent awe of that first Christmas eve, then as a teacher, a friend, a seeker of the lost, the one who said, “Let the little children come unto Me.” Then, in the crescendo of His mission, He was despised and rejected, bearing our stripes, suffering the penalty for sin on the cross, paying the debt in full, rising in triumph over the grave, seated at the right hand of the Father. This is the real Christmas story.
Is there any better hope for a broken world? For the lonely, the elderly, the sick, the abused, the rejected, the persecuted, the broken, the hurting, the defenseless, and even for those who are rich but are truly poor, He is healing and hope and grace and love. He is the light shining in the darkness. He is the narrow gate. He is the good shepherd, willing to leave the ninety-nine to seek the one. And one day, maybe even this Christmas, He is the one who will return to set all things right.
On Christmas Eve 2022, He is the way, the truth, and the life.
Is this the most Christ-less Christmas in our lifetime? Perhaps in America. Maybe even in Indiana. But tonight, as we celebrate His birth, it’s still Christmas, regardless of what the polls might say.
Tonight, as evening falls and the wonder of Christmas Eve begins, may we all find a quiet place to pause and remember what Christmas is truly about: a night when angels filled the skies, shepherds worshiped on their knees, the great star appeared, and a young virgin gazed, for the very first time, into the eyes of the newborn king, glistening in the candlelight of a lowly stable.
Hope is here, at the manger. A savior is born, and His name is Jesus.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
May you have a blessed and peaceful Christmas.
President and CEO