One of the issues that prompts Christians to action is keeping “Christ” in Christmas. Every year as Christmas approaches, great concerns are expressed about nativity scenes at city halls and the lighting of Christmas trees or “Winter Festival” trees. I visited the UK last week. One of the Nov 7th articles in The Daily Telegraph (UK) headlined “Christmas stamps ignore Christianity”. The news item was triggered by the Church of England criticizing the Royal Mail service for featuring snowmen, reindeer and Father Christmas on its stamps, while ignoring religious art or the nativity scene.
There has been an ongoing feud between the church’s General Synod and the various British institutions, with the Synod “defending” Christianity. Last year the Royal Mail released a stamp featuring an image of a man and a woman with Hindu markings worshipping the infant Christ. As far back as 1998, the city of Birmingham renamed its celebration “Winterval” followed by an outcry of protests. Similar battles are fought each year in the whole western world.
What are we to think of this? Is this a war worth fighting? Here are a few observations.
First the Church of England should be more concerned about some of its own bishops denying the virgin birth and resurrection of Jesus. Clean your own house before battling with the Royal Mail service.
Secondly, when are we Christians going to be as energized about the fact that millions in the western world have never heard an understandable presentation of the Gospel, as we are about the look of nativity scenes? What matters is a “new creation” (Gal 6:14-15), not symbols, rituals or insignias.
The church has never done well with Christianity enshrined as a state religion, not under emperor Constantine, his successors, or in more recent examples in Europe. Jesus is not about a state, political party (not even the Republican party), or a particular tradition. The only hope of humanity is to receive Christ’s indwelling righteousness. In contrast, the church has done well under adversity and opposition. If you need further proof, read the book of Acts. Yes, I want nativity scenes and traditional Christmas displays, but these issues dona^?þt energize me.
I keep blogging about Jesus, and particularly Jesus in us. One day the world will be judged not on the basis of what traditions we upheld, but if Jesus had come to live in us or not (Romans 2:16) He who has Jesus has life.
I love to hear from you. Agree or disagree, but let’s keep blogging.