Earlier this week we posted an article I wrote on Mary the Mother of Jesus (The Truth about Jesus’ Parents: Part 1 – Mary, “How Can this Be?”). Week after next I will write about Joseph. The purpose for the article was to expose some of the mistaken ideas people have about the Christmas story and the people who were part of it. It also highlighted how the place of Christ in popular Christmas commemoration has diminished greatly over the past several decades. I immediately received an insightful response from a reader. I want to share it with you here.
> I plan to go back and read your article more thoroughly, but I wanted to fire off a
> quick response based on your opening. I, too, have noticed how many “Christmas”
> songs/emphases in contemporary American culture. Folks celebrate Thanksgiving
> without God and Christmas without Christ.
> I’ve sometimes pondered what would happen if we treated other holidays the
> same. Can you imagine the furor if we decided to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther
> King’s Birthday without ever mentioning Dr. King or civil rights? We could just
> substitute a nice, generic “be nice to people” message and no one would notice.
> Or take Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day. All this emphasis on the military is likely
> offensive to pacifists and immigrants who came from countries against whom we
> made war. So, we’ll just leave out any mention of the military… (to quote Paul, “I
> speak as a fool”!). When it comes to Christ, however, society can slide right
> through Christmas and Easter with no mention of Jesus.
> And, since you opened with Mary, I’ll share this briefly. When I was a young
> pastor, I once shared a Christmas Quiz with our youth. One of the questions went
> something like: “How did Joseph and Mary get to Bethlehem? (a) Bus (b) Chariot
> (c) Mary rode a donkey and Joseph walked (d) The Bible doesn’t say.” All the kids
> chose c–Mary rode a donkey…, and I tried to explain that the Bible just doesn’t
> say. The kids all responded, “But that’s how it is on all the Christmas cards!” A
> rather long discussion ensued, and I thought I had it all straightened out…until
> about 15 minutes after I got home, when the parents started calling: “My
> young’un says you said Mary didn’t ride no donkey!” “No, Sir–I didn’t say she
> didn’t, but just that the Bible doesn’t say.” “That’s how it is on all the Christmas
> cards!” After repeating this phone call a few times, I looked at my wife and said, “I
> never realized how influential the Gospel According to Hallmark was!”
> Merry Christmas,
> Ray Coleman
> Associational Missionary
> Smyrna Baptist Association
> Douglas, GA