Every year I get frustrated with the argument of whether or not retailers should say, "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays". Every year I am perplexed at the number of people who stay up all night just to get the best bargain for Christmas. Call me a cynic, but I don't think I recognize Christmas anymore. Or do I?
I did some in depth research on the subject of Christmas. Well, not really, but I did launch a Google search. I clicked on the first link I found which was, History.com and this is what I learned; "Christmas is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenonmenon. For two nillennia, people around the world have been observing it with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature." Hmm that's interesting. So, Christmas is religious, cultural and commercial all wrapped up in one neat package. Brilliant!
So what's the big deal if the checker at Macy's or any other department store says, "happy holidays"? I mean, does the iPod we purchase or the new sweater really have anything at all to do with the birth of Jesus? How would the store employee know? How are they supposed to know our intent? In fact, how many recipients of our gifts can in any way associate them with anything besides the time of year when we can expect anything for which we've asked? Long before Jesus was born, were people saying, if we get a saviour this year, maybe we can spring for the new camel next year. I don't think I recognize Christmas anymore.
Or do I?
Today as I was sitting at the piano, alone in the church sanctuary, my mind wandered as it often does and I began to play and sing these words; "Emmanuel, Emmanuel, His name is called, Emmanuel. He is God with us, revealed in us, His name is called, Emmanuel". Is it enough just to know that God is in me? I don't need to hear a department store employee recite the words, "merry Christmas" to know that God is with me and better still, that He is in me.
Is it enough to know that Emmanuel has come to be with you and to feel the intimacy of a Saviour revealed in you?
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