By Colin Baker, pastor of Grays Baptist Church and Chair of Transformation Thurrock, taken from the GBC Christmas Magazine 2016
Christmas is a time of year that always seems to produce more advertising slogans and pithy phrases. Businesses, shops and charities and even churches are always trying to produce the most catchy strapline or headline to their seasonal advertising.
In a large department store near to us they have developed the phrase:
“Christmas is coming for you”
I stood for a while as I took a photograph of the advertising board and wondered what the message was that they were trying to communicate to the public. Since I used to work in the advertising industry I quickly went through a series of thoughts and questions…
Why is Christmas coming for me?
Is it coming to get me because I have done something wrong? Is it coming to punish me? If it is coming for me, can I escape it?
Is Christmas a thing? Is it some kind of irresistible force that is somehow going to just keep coming and not give up until it finds me?
What about if Christmas is just too difficult a time for me because of memories of past times when there have been family arguments, disasters, divorce or bereavements?
What about if I just can’t afford Christmas? What about if Christmas is coming for me and I’m not ready?
I was tempted to get a marker pen and do this:
mas is coming for you”
Please don’t do this, you will probably be arrested! If it has already been done, please do not assume it was me or blame me because I made the suggestion. I am not advocating criminal damage! In fact all I am doing is being affected by the advertising which is the whole point.
A friend of mine’s Facebook status has been updated to say, “The history of the world hinges on a Bethlehem stable door.”
Rather catchy, but I’m not sure that the world would really understand what that is all about, besides, all we know is that Jesus was laid in a manger and that doesn’t mean he was necessarily born in a stable. This may rock your world a little but the truth is found in Luke 2:7 – “Mary wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them”.
With all the advertising and slogans though I have become dissatisfied with the lack of Christian content in our greetings. I mean, how satisfied are you with what has become the standard thing to say at Christmas… “Merry Christmas”. I tend to look on the positive side of this for a bit because at least we are saying Christmas and therefore Christ is mentioned but the merry part is not rooted in the gospel story – more likely it is connected with a partying culture where much merriment is had whilst indulging in a Christmas ‘spirit’ of some kind!
Merry Christmas can be somewhat of a hollow greeting and kind of misses the point of what we are celebrating at Christmas. The department store may be closer to the mark in saying “Christmas is coming for you”.
How about saying something like, “Jesus Christ has come just for you!”? After all, Jesus did come especially for you and for me. The point is important, let’s not drop the name of Jesus out of Christmas! I believe it is a cunning plan of satan to try to stop us mentioning the name of Jesus Christ (the Messiah) in the public domain.
I have some suggestions of other phrases we could use: “May Jesus Christ bring you peace”, “Happy Jesusmas”, or please be creative and use one of your own.
Please let us join hearts and voices in love, compassion and God-like bold courage to speak with tender devotion the most Holy and Wonderful Name “Jesus Christ” without brash disrespect or arrogance. God will be honoured: Jesus exalted: you will be encouraged and many others will be blessed!!
Our Christian heritage, culture and traditions will not be eroded if we would stand up like Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther and Mordecai. I have made a decision to stand up, not in arrogance, but in any and every way the Lord leads me to make a difference. The four people mentioned were powerful in character and would not surrender to anything but the heritage of God.
Step out with me. Wait patiently for the Lord’s guidance – and stand up for Jesus Christ.
Peace and Jesus-filled blessings, Colin