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The Snoop 12.18.2014

This week’s Snoop is borrowed from Paul Heil’s “The Gospel Greats” newsletter, Dec. 16, 2014.
“Remember When…”
Forgive me a little Christmas reminiscing… In fact, perhaps you also remember…
• When public school teachers would not hesitate to read the Christmas story directly from Luke 2 before the class recited the Pledge of Allegiance?
• When Christmas pageants in public schools were much-anticipated events, especially at the grade-school level?
• When church groups always went Christmas caroling for strangers, perhaps in poor neighborhoods, or, at least, at the homes of those who were called “shut-ins” from church?
• When creche scenes – including live portrayals – were routinely offered in the public square during the Christmas season?
• When churches throughout the city played Christmas carols from their steeples through carillons or, at least, over big loudspeakers? (When the neighbors actually liked it?)
• When public officials, including school officials, actually referred to the holiday season as “Christmas?”  (Pittsburgh, Pa., this year refers to it officially as “sparkle day.”)
• When those big evergreen trees were actually called “Christmas trees” rather than “holiday trees?”
• When giving Christmas gifts to those you love was a welcome opportunity, not an obligation?
• When merchants weren’t afraid to advertise “Christmas sales” and clerks actually said “Merry Christmas” – without fear of “offending” anyone?
• When shopping malls permitted roving choirs to sing Christmas carols for shoppers?
• When banks would advertise “Christmas clubs?” (Do you even remember what those were?)
• When “Christian” radio stations wouldn’t even think of playing “Jingle Bells” or other secular Christmas songs, playing only Christ-centered Christmas songs?
• When Christmas was universally recognized as a celebration of Christ’s birth? (A recent Rasmussen poll found while 60 percent of Americans believe Christmas should be about the Lord’s birth, 20 percent think it should be more about Santa and another 20 percent just aren’t sure.)
• When almost none of those things above caused outbursts of “outrage” or “offense” to even those who habitually took offense at almost anything, including the ACLU?
Are you old enough, and do you remember enough of the above (some are still around at places), to worry about what today’s younger generations have lost at Christmastime? And are you heartsick about the fact that they don’t even realize it? Or seem to care? Franklin Graham, writing in December’s Decision magazine, said that what’s come to be called a war on Christmas is actually “a war on Christ.” He noted that “stores, schools and communities across America continue to find new and intolerant reasons to remove any religious references to Christmas, stripping it of any holy or historical significance.
Christian songs, prayers and other spiritually vital connections to the Lord Jesus Christ are deleted or dismissed.” Graham concluded that because it’s actually a war against Christ and Christian beliefs, “We should not be taken aback, then, when a day that should be devoted to meditation upon the marvelous, virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ is instead treated in a scandalously secular way that denies His deity and saving work.”
You and I know what Christmas is all about – the Lord’s incarnation. (And although we happen to celebrate it on Dec. 25th, his actual birthday could have come at an entirely different time of the year. What does it matter — as long as we celebrate it?) And who is it that tries to destroy any such celebration? Who wants to rob the celebration of its joy? Satan, of course, and his minions.
Scratch someone who objects to celebrating the Lord’s birth and you’ll find someone who thinks Christianity is a bunch of worthless fairytales, nothing more. No wonder they’re “offended” by the attention Christ gets at Christmastime. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “the message of the cross” – the Gospel – “is foolishness to those who are perishing…” And this issue seems to bring out a lot of foolishness each year. The good news is that perhaps the tide is turning, if ever so slowly.
Some school districts that once canceled carol sings have reinstated them after legal counsel said there was no legal reason to prohibit them. Some merchants who once refused to allow “Merry Christmas” are now allowing it again, albeit on a limited response-only basis. As the late Paul Harvey used to say, “Excesses are inevitably their own undoing.” Go ahead — celebrate Christ’s birth! Celebrate His coming! Celebrate His reason for coming! Where would we be without it? – Paul