The Anchor of Hope
An e-publication of Living Hope Presbyterian Church
December 19, 2014
Luke 2:8-15, 20 And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night. (9) And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. (10) And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; (11) for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (12) “And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.” (13) And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, (14) “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” (15) . . . the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” . . . (20) And the shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.
Mat 2:1-2, 10-11 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, (2) “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him.” (10) And when they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. (11) And they came into the house and saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell down and worshiped Him. . . .
Recently, a FaceBook friend posted a picture from the Ellen DeGeneres’ TV show of Ellen being tenderly caressed by her lesbian partner with the caption, “Bound to have a Merry Christmas”. My friend sarcastically quipped, “Oh, look! It says, ‘Merry Christmas’ instead of ‘Happy Holidays’! We must be winning the culture war.”
As you read through the two passages above, note the reaction of those to the Christ child. It is worship. The angels worshiped at the announcement. The shepherds worshiped after the angels’ words had been confirmed to them. The magi stated their intention to worship, and then fulfilled their intent. So we see that not just the presence of the Child, but also the idea of His coming provoked worship.
But the Child’s coming did not provoke worship in everyone. Herod stated his intent to worship, but his outward deception hid his true intentions. He planned to destroy the Child (Mt 2.7-8, 13). And so it is with those who live in rebellion to God. They may say ‘Merry Christmas’. However, their hearts do not worship Him, because in fact, they hate Him (Prov 26.24-26).
Keeping the word ‘Christ’ in Christmas is surely a worthy goal. Each time that word is repeated, we are forcing the world to face the reality of God coming in the flesh. But, as my friend pointed out, merely saying the word may mean little in a culture that celebrates mocking God with openly degenerate lifestyles (pun intended). Thus, including Christ in our greetings at this time of the year is only the first step, not an end in itself. We have an opportunity for witnessing just because of Christmas. Make use of the season to the Kingdom’s advantage.
And why are we fighting such a battle anyway? We fight because the shapers of the culture in which we live are continually pressing to erase His name, and all that it means, from our collective cultural memory. But unless His Person is worshiped in all its meaning – the birth, life, death, and resurrection of the Savior God-man, He is not truly worshiped. And if He is not worshiped, it matters little whether one says ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Holidays’.
So, Merry Christmas! God is with us! Let your hearts worship Him as we celebrate His coming.