Last year, Starbucks was criticized by having plain red cups during the holiday season. Many people were upset and started a trend whereby they stated their name as Mary Christmas, so that the Starbucks employee would shout “Mary Christmas” when the order was ready, thereby coercing the employee to say “Merry Christmas.” By the way, Starbucks employees can say Merry Christmas if they want to.
Christmas time is filled with all sorts of sayings. The obvious, of course is “Merry Christmas.” Another saying is “Happy Holidays.” From a pop culture song, just about every American knows “feliz Navidad” is the Spanish way to say Merry Christmas. The greeting card industry created a generic “Seasons Greeting” version. Finally, marketers created a similar uproar when they used shorthand in saying “Merry Xmas.”
For Christians, our concern should not be the saying “merry Christmas” but the actual real meaning of Christmas. Celebrating Christmas gives us a platform at work, school, with family, and with friends to point them to the real meaning of Christmas.
The real meaning of Christmas comes to us in the form of a baby named Jesus. This baby is the Son of God or God in human form. The angel told Joseph to name Him Jesus “for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matt. 1:21) Paul dittos what the angel said when writing to Timothy “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” He tells Timothy (and us) that this is a “faithful saying”.
Paul says this saying is trustworthy. It is reliable. He says it is “worthy of all acceptance.” The NIV states that it “deserves full acceptance” and the NLT states “everyone should accept it.” The word acceptance is used to include reception, admission, and approbation. Everyone should accept, admit, receive, and approbate this saying, but they don’t. Approbate means to approve of, commend, or to sanction. By faith, we accept, admit, receive, approbate, approve of, commend, and sanction the saying. It’s not just a holiday greeting!
For the person who is experiencing personal loss, such as death, a layoff, or divorce, is it really a “merry” Christmas? For the person experiencing depression, can it really be a “happy “holiday? Do those who feel lonely and left out really sense we are saying “feliz Navidad from the bottom of our heart?”
Can those who celebrate Christmas with parties without knowing the real reason for the “season” understand our greeting? And can those who fill the void in their lives by materialism really find the “X” that is missing in their heart?
They can if we take advantage of the opportunity this time gives us to point them to the faithful saying. It is only by knowing and trusting Jesus as our Savior for our sins that we can really know the true meaning of Christmas. He came to save sinners. And guess what, like Paul,” I am chief”. The NLT says “I am the worst of them all.” We are sinners in need of a Savior and the world is full of sinners who need a Savior. That’s why Jesus came.
Saying Merry Christmas does not save anyone. It doesn’t even help them know Who Jesus is. When I was lost, I said Merry Christmas, I celebrated Christmas, I partied during Christmas, I spent time with family during Christmas, and I had nostalgic feeling during Christmas. The problem was, I did not know Christ as my Savior.
Rose of Sharon, let’s be a church that is not caught up in just saying “Merry Christmas.” Let’s be about saying what really matters: that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners including me. Now that is a faithful saying.
I love you and it’s a privilege to be your pastor,