Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Statistical Christmas

by Dan Jones

As I was surfing the internet trying to come up with a topic for this week’s blog, I came across a poll from the Gallup Company which found that 95% of Americans celebrate Christmas.

That doesn’t seem all that surprising, until you consider that other polls claim to find that about 5% of the population identifies as agnostic and 3% of the population identifies as atheist.

Those two groups are among the 21% of the general population which claims to have no religious affiliation what-so-ever.

Let that sink in for a bit.

Then, there is also 1.9 percent of the population who claim religious affiliation with Judaism, .7% Buddhism, .7% Hinduism, and .9% Muslim.

This means that there are people in this country who will not claim Jesus as Savior, but will celebrate His birth.

In other words, now is our chance!!

That’s the thing about Christmas. The Good News is just too good to stay away from. The love that flows at this time of the year is too precious, too sweet to ignore.

“Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people!” (Luke 2:10b KJV)

Christmas is real. People do love each other more at this time of year.

Americans donated almost $360 billion in 2014 and, according to Network for Good, 32% of that (almost a third) is donated in the single month of December.

The joy of Christmas is real. People are happier. People are kinder. People are more generous. People smile more often.

Now is our chance!

Oh sure, our culture spends a lot of time on Santa Claus and snowflakes and commercializing Christmas. And, we as Christians post all over our social media that we will not succumb to political correctness and call it a “Holiday Tree” because we are staunchly insistent on calling it a “Christmas Tree.”

But, when it comes right down to it, that secular radio station that has been playing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Frosty the Snowman” for two weeks before Christmas is going to play “Silent Night” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem” on Christmas day. And maybe a few times before.

And while we’re at it, if an atheist wants to call it a “Holiday Tree” why can’t we smile and say, “Why yes, it is a tree that celebrates a holy day?”--because that’s what “holiday” means.

And, for those who struggle at Christmas—for those who have lost a loved one or who suffer from depression, let us remember them and reach out to them. It’s long been known that suicides increase at this time of year because it’s hard to see love flourish when you’re left out.

I just heard a news story on Kinship Christian Radio yesterday that said that 57% of people who would not normally go to church at Christmas would do so if somebody asked them!

Now is our chance!

For those of you who are offended by people being offended by Christmas, please keep in mind that the teeny, teeny fraction of people putting up billboards saying “Go ahead and skip church” with an image of Santa Claus say on the very same billboard that it’s possible to “Be good for goodness sake.” And, then they wish us happy holy days!

And, please remember that while we are busily proclaiming that Jesus is the reason for the season, if we do not proclaim this in love and show that love, we are nothing more than a noisy gong or a clanging symbol in the midst of a silent and holy night.

When the Freedom from Religion Foundation complained that there was a nativity scene on public property in Wadena and threatened to sue, the City sold the crèche to the local ministerial association and, instead of complaining or writing angry letters to the editor, the citizens of that town put up hundreds of nativity scenes in their yards.

Love wasn’t defeated in Wadena, it was multiplied.

The fact is that this innocent, harmless little baby born in a stable and placed in a manger in Bethlehem on that holy night is the single most powerful act of love in the history of the universe. The incredible, all-surpassing love of God present in the person of Jesus Christ on the night that the sky was filled with angels proclaiming His birth and praising God before some lowly shepherds changed human history more than any other event ever has or ever will until He returns in glory.

So, for all the hustle and bustle, for all the children laughing, for all the people passing, do not forget that when you are sitting in church this Christmas, the person sitting next to you may only be there for this one day of the year.

Now is your chance.

Today’s Praise

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim

(From“O Holy Night” by John Sullivan Dwight)




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