On Using Secular Christmas Traditions To Lead People to Jesus

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Here’s a repeat piece that I didn’t get posted before Christmas:

“What do you think about the false deification of Santa Clause?” asked somebody.
“Sure, I’d be glad to weigh in on the Santa controversy,” I replied . . .

It has been said, ad nauseum, that secular traditions such as Christmas trees, Santa Clause, and even the word “Christmas” should be condemned and abolished by Christians because they distract and detract from the true meaning of Christ’s birth.
I disagree.
Those many traditions are so ingrained into society that they cannot now be reversed nor abolished even if we wanted to, which most of us don’t. They can, however, be used in a positive manner to point to God’s glory. I’ve previously discussed how the Christmas tree points to Jesus Christ. It is easy for me to tell, as well, how Saint Nicholas‘ (the real-life man behind the legend of Santa Claus) life and existence points to the life and teachings of Jesus.

I only implore you, dear reader, not to foster the mistruths about Santa Clause, or Father Christmas, but tell the factual truth about those figures. Fact is, they are legends and fantasies based on a good man’s acts, but they must not be passed down as reality. The generous acts, themselves, are the Christlike reality.

It’s the same for the gift-giving, the lights, the colors, the tree, the decorating, and the joyous celebrating. One can ignore any or all of it, or one can use those traditions of secular Christmastime as reminders of Jesus’ birth, life, instructive words, and miraculous deeds. I strive for that as I constantly try to keep Him at the forefront of the celebration.

I believe that we should not only accept, as a fact of life, the secular traditions – the things that have been distorted and perverted away from the original intent of honoring the Christ-child, but turn them back upon themselves to their original purpose which is to celebrate His birth, to point to Him, to highlight Him, and to glorify Him in the unfettered, hopeful, optimistic, rejoicing manner in which the host of angels announced His arrival to the shepherds, and to us.

We can’t do away with Santa, and I don’t want to do that anyway. We can, however present him in a different light – the light that shines when he extends a gift to a child who has none, or the glow when he calls to a little one to come sit on his knee, or the beacon that shines when he tells the story of Jesus’ birth to a group of awestruck children, or when he silently prays for a sick or needy child and their family, or the radiant streaming rays that illuminate the scene when he kneels to worship beside the manger which contains his Savior Lord swaddled in humble cloth. All those actions mimic or respect Christ, The Light of the World, as Santa, the legend, mimics the real man, Nicholas, who was a somewhat Christlike child of God, himself!

We have so many commonly seen secular symbols that can be used to point to Jesus at Christmastime:

 Common decorative wreaths, for example, can be found on doors, in windows, or inside many secular homes, even on city light posts, but the circles of evergreen boughs symbolize eternal life and the never-ending love of God. The non-believers don’t even know that! We believers even elevate the wreath to worship status. The five candles of the Advent wreath are lit in order bring to mind hope, peace, joy, love, and the purity of Christ, the Light of the World who was sent for us. It also encircles the promise that He will return to us, not in humility this time, but in His full power and glory!

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness —
on them light has shined. Isaiah 9: 2-7

The Advent wreath is loaded with symbolism to “get the ball rolling” early in December before the really secular traditions begin.

The ever-present Christmas tree itself is a real or a reasonable facsimile of an evergreen tree, which also symbolizes eternal life. It points to Heaven, and, in my world, all the lights, ornaments, and decorations on the tree represent all believers in Jesus. The lights remind me that The Light of the World has come and we wait for Him to come again.

The presents under the tree are reminders of the original Christmas gift – the gift of Jesus sent to us by Father God, and His presence with us – and the wrappings, His swaddling cloths. Everyone who is able participates in the giving of gifts. Some gifts are frivolous and some needful. Gift giving is a reminder of how Father God sent us, the very needy, a huge gift of forgiveness, grace,mercy, hope, and love delivered through His Son. And we all, believers and non-believers, must receive any and all gifts with gracefulness and gratefulness. The gift of The Savior Child, our Light of the World, is given to every one of us Earthlings, but that gift must be received, and willingly accepted before it can be unwrapped and enjoyed.

The star at the top of the tree points to Christ and leads people to Him. It reminds us of the nativity story because of its important role therein. If there is an angel instead of a star, it evokes memories of the very powerful presence of angels involving Zechariah, Mary, and Joseph. Even more astonishing was their appearance to the shepherds just after Jesus’ birth – not just one, but a whole host of them!

 Those traditions and others I’ve not thought of can be used to help us illuminate Jesus in a darkened world. I believe proclaiming Him is our commission, our duty, and our pleasure, as believers and as beneficiaries of The Father’s miraculously generous, humble, and humbling gift.

We are still living in a land of deep darkness, thousands of years after Isaiah’s God-given words. Billions of people are walking in darkness today, but many have seen the great Light. It is given to them to shine the Light of the World upon the land of deep darkness and all those walking in it.

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Whatever you do,
Whatever you think,
Seek Him in all things
And have yourself a happy,
Have yourself a joyous,
Have yourself the merriest Christmas!

Above all,
Remember Who is glorious,

Give Him all your glory,
Keep it Christmas-Story-ous!

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