Advent Is Here: Do Not Forget God!
We are once again in the beautiful and exciting Advent season. We have decorated our homes, offices, and Churches, and we are crazy busy buying gifts and planning and attending holiday celebrations. Retail stores, internet sites, and package delivery companies are all working overtime to service the Christmas commercial frenzy with which most of us seemed to be preoccupied at this time of year.
We are often reminded, however, by our Pastor or a TV personality to “Remember to keep Christ in Christmas.” Whenever I hear this phrase, the scolding words of my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Magda, ring in my ears. Mrs. Magda had assigned our class an essay on what Christmas meant to us. I described our Catholic traditions and our practice of visiting our grandparents’ home on Christmas Eve with my father’s large family. But then, I made the mistake of spelling Christmas as “Xmas” at one point in the essay. Boy, was I in trouble! “You never take Christ out of Christmas!!!” I was told. The rebuke was so severe that I shudder even to this day when I see Christmas written as “Xmas.”
But should just keeping the name Christ in Christmas be the focus of the Advent season? Should Christmas itself as a holiday really be that important to Christians? Many Christian historians admit that we do not know when Jesus Christ was born. Bill O’Reilly, the popular conservative author claimed in his book, “Killing Jesus,” that his extensive research indicated that Jesus was actually born in March! Other historians claim that Christmas has its root in the old pagan Roman holiday called saturnalia, where Romans celebrated for several days in gluttony and drunken revelry at year end. Historians claim that the early Catholic Church tried to moderate the bad behavior by declaring December 25 Christmas, Jesus’ birthday, and turn Saturnalia into a Christian holy day!
So, what do we make of Advent? I believe that this is the season to remind ourselves not to forget God as we go about our frenzied shopping and partying. This is the same exhortation that was made by the 8thCentury BC, minor prophet Hosea in the Northern Kingdom during the reign of the wicked King Jeroboam. Rather than trusting God, Israel tried to buy the favor and protection of Assyria and Egypt. Israel was rich, fat, and prosperous. They worshipped God by name, but in Bethel and other high places and not in Jerusalem. They also adopted the rituals and practices of pagan baal worship. There was gross immorality, and even the priests became rich collecting sin offerings from the poor people. In Hosea 8:14 the prophet proclaimed that “Israel has forgotten his maker,” and went on to prophesy the destruction of the Northern Kingdom.
Fast forward to America in December 2018 and we experience a society in Advent that is preoccupied with enjoying its wealth, technologies, luxuries, safety and security, and seemingly infinite natural resources. But are we forgetting the source of all these incredible blessings? Might God suspend the blessings if we fail to remember Him and fear Him?
Do not forget God as you enjoy the Advent season. Remember that the God who created our beautiful world and the spiritual and physical laws that govern the universe is the source of our blessings. Remember also that God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to earth to die for our sins. And remember that we are saved only by God’s grace and by our faith in Jesus and his atoning work on the cross.
God’s Blessings and Merry Christmas!
Bob Schumacher, elder
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