Charleston, West Virginia, has held an old-fashioned downtown Christmas Parade for many years. In early October, the city’s official Facebook page announced: “The Charleston Winter Parade will begin at the corner of the Kanawha Boulevard and Capitol Street.”
Their recently elected mayor made the change to signal that their city was a place for people of all faiths and cultures. However, that is not how many residents saw her decision. City council members learned about the name change when everyone else did. Then they began hearing from constituents who were upset.
On the third day after the mayor’s announcement, she changed her position and the Christmas Parade was back on.
A “Capitol Holiday Tree” and “Merry Coffee” cups
Divisions over Christmas seem to be escalating as our culture’s secularism escalates.
Here are two examples in the news: Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has renamed the state’s Christmas tree the “Capitol Holiday Tree.” And Starbucks recently unveiled new seasonal cups for the holidays, none of which uses the word Christmas.
Two of them say “Merry Coffee.” Each cup’s sleeve displays the words, “We wish you a merry coffee.” (A Starbucks spokesman noted that the company still offers a “Christmas blend” and that their stores will be decorated during the holidays with Christmas colors and candy cane ribbon.)
It is a cultural fact that secularism and relativism go hand in hand. In order to move away from historic religious truth and orthodox morality, secularists must begin by redefining truth and morality as personal and subjective. Once they convince us that “truth” is what we believe it to be, the way is clear to rename and redefine those religious beliefs and practices they find objectionable.
But, as John Adams wisely noted, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
Shootings, storms, and suffering
Today’s news reminds us of our need for the unchanging Christmas truth that God has entered our broken world (Philippians 2:6–8) and is present with us still today (Matthew 28:20).
A Sunday early-morning shooting in New Orleans’ French Quarter wounded nearly a dozen people. Yesterday morning, a shooting in a Chicago suburb killed one person and injured several others.
A nineteen-year-old driver was killed five days after her birthday when a backseat passenger’s rifle discharged. Extreme weather conditions continue this morning across much of the country and are being blamed for a plane crash in South Dakota on Saturday that killed nine family members.
Facts that make the head spin
The only answer to the deepest questions and struggles of life is the One who is the only Way, Truth, and Life (John 14:6). Unfortunately, many in our culture see Christ through the prism of Christmas—a tradition they believe to have no lasting relevance in our lives.
So, let’s take a moment today to consider the true nature of the One whose birth is historically “the reason for the season.”
Colossians 1 says of Jesus: “By him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (vv. 16–18).
Here is one way to illustrate the creative power of the Christ of Christmas: Our planet is spinning on its axis at 1,040 miles per hour. The earth is spinning around the sun at 66,600 mph. Our solar system is moving through the Milky Way galaxy at a rate of 558,000 mph. The Milky Way is moving through the universe at 660,000 mph.
And Jesus made all of that and is holding it all together right now.
Two powerful facts
Two practical principles result.
One: Jesus has the power to answer our prayers in whatever way is best for us.
The Baby of Bethlehem grew up to calm stormy seas at the cry of his disciples (Matthew 8:25), to open the eyes of a blind man who sought his mercy (Luke 18:35–43), and to transform a notorious sinner who responded to his grace with repentant faith (Luke 19:1–10).
Where do you most need to seek his power in your life today?
Two: Jesus will empower us as we make his word and grace real wherever we go this season.
Just before his ascension, our Lord promised his followers that they would “receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8a). However, God’s power is intended to fulfill God’s purpose: “And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8b).
If you and I seek to speak the truth and grace of Christ where we live and wherever we go, we will experience the power of Christ to make real our commitment. Our lives will be the modern-day Bethlehem of the Son of God, and others will be drawn to worship the One we love.
What is your Acts 1:8 strategy for the Christmas season?