You've seen the signs and bumper stickers: "Keep Christ in Christmas." It's a rebuttal to the growing secularism of Christmas in our culture.
A recent poll by the Pew Research Center found that while nine in 10 U.S. adults celebrate the holiday, that celebration is heading in a more secular direction. Three years ago, 51% of U.S. adults said Christmas for them is more a religious holiday than a cultural one. But according to a Pew survey out last week, that number has slipped to 46%.
There is great consternation among many Christians that Christmas is lost. There's a sense that we must reclaim it. For my part, I don't get too bent out of shape. Cultural erosion of the celebration does not negate the power of the event we celebrate. In fact, our cultural climate may accentuate the reality of Christ's incarnation all the more.
Thomas Merton, a writer and monk, once wrote:
“Into this world, this demented inn in which there is absolutely no room for him at all, Christ comes uninvited.”
The Bible says, “There was no room for them in the inn.” A barn for a birthplace. A manger for a crib. No one invited him. No one asked for him to come. No planned for his arrival. Christ arrived on the margins of society, overlooked and ignored.
John, the gospel writer, put it this way: “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” (John 1:10-11)
We should not be aghast that the world has pushed Christ out of Christmas. That's to be expected. The human race has demonstrated a propensity to push God aside.
What should really surprise us is that Christ arrives nonetheless. He is uninvited, and worse, rejected and denied. Still he comes.
Lest we become self-righteous in our indignation, let us confess our own denial of the Infant lowly. He has come to raise the dead and rule the world. Yet our own vanity and hypocrisy seek to lock him out.
He’s the uninvited Savior. Still he comes . . . to you. So open the door to your heart. Remove the barricades and unlock the deadbolt. Invite him, as he has invited you. As we his people welcome him, may others also be invited to see what we see - the Savior of the Nations.
A Christmas prayer:
Jesus, you came to us, even when we did not welcome you. Cast out our sin and enter in. Come to us, abide with us, our Lord, Emmanuel. We invite you into our lives as you have first invited us. Amen.