Pastor David Jeremiah confessed at last weekend’s service that he loves the trappings of Christmas. Every year he takes his family to New York City to watch the Rockettes perform their holiday program. He shared the story of his family’s recent visit:
They gave us a pair of special glasses and turned down the lights. As the program began we could see 3D projections of Santa Claus flying over the stage delivering presents. It looked so real that I actually reached out to try to catch one of the wrapped gifts.
At the end of the program they recreated the Christmas story from the Book of Luke. I sat in wonder as the story of Christ’s birth was presented on the big stage. How would it be received by a New York audience in 2017? Well, there was a standing ovation, but as we were leaving I heard a man say, “I really enjoyed the first part of the program, but why did they have to ruin it with all that religious stuff?” I wanted to reach out and tell the man, “That religious stuff is what Christmas is all about.”
When it premiered on December 9, 1965, A Charlie Brown Christmas was expected to be a ratings disaster. CBS executives didn’t like the theme music (Linus and Lucy by Vince Guaraldi) because it sounded too adult. More importantly, TV execs did not want to broadcast a religious-themed Christmas program. Director Bill Melendez somewhat agreed with the network, but noted that “Sparky (Charles Schulz) would not budge.”
CBS thought of canning the program, but it had spent so much money to develop the project that it decided to air the special and simply write it off as a production loss. The rest, as they say, is history. A Charlie Brown Christmas was seen in 50% of American households. It earned critical acclaim, and was awarded an Emmy and a Peabody. It became a Christmas classic, and has aired for over fifty years.
Pastor Jeremiah warned that even a Christian can get caught up in the trappings of Christmas. Santa Claus is a jovial, non-threatening substitution for Jesus Christ. The North Pole is a substitute for heaven — a lump of coal a substitute for hell. The concept of good and evil reduced to an innocuous list of those who are naughty, or nice.
There is a great divide — two Christmases, if you will, one for the pagans and one for the Christians. It is hypocritical, though, for non-Christians to celebrate Christmas, or Christ’s mass. The world loves the holiday music, parties and gifts, but they fail to recognize the true gift of the season.
2 Corinthians 9:15
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
God blinds their eyes and hardens their hearts so that they cannot discern what is true nor perceive what is deception. My sorrow is that many Christians are equally confused.
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