It’s His party, but you can come if you want to, even if, like a football poseur at a Super Bowl party, you forget the cause of the fun.
Christmas is not for Christians, it is for the Lord Christ, and Jesus is merry. He loves all people, so if you are not a Christian: “Welcome to the party.” God is not insecure, so even Richard Dawkins is welcome to celebrate the feast if he can loosen up enough to forget himself.
A few Christians, the type narrow enough to see down a straw with both eyes, and many non-Christians, trying to live in a Christian culture without noticing, pretend that Christmas is a pagan holiday taken over by Christians. This Dan Brown like history would be fine if true, but it is false. Roman government resented a feast of free people that celebrated a man who refused to make Caesar Lord and aped it. Libertines disliked a feast that wasn’t an orgy, a party sublime without a hangover, and tried to hi-jack it. That they entirely failed to make Christmas less Christian isn’t too sad, because at least they tried to make merry.
Merriment is commanded by God as the appropriate response to good news. What is that good news? We have eternity in our hearts. We long for love that lasts forever and yet love keeps failing us. God seems distant, but we cannot stop believing in Him. Our choices bring us pain, but we cannot pay this bill for our free will. While we want the power to choose, we cannot stand the choices we have made.
Trying to love God when our choices make us distant from Him is grim business, reducing us to the living dead. Even our parties are just a chance for grimly grinning ghouls to come out and socialize.
God saw this horror and showed up at our party and changed it forever. It was such a glorious plan that even Plato could not think of it. It was not like the appearance of false gods humans dreamed up, because God did not put on a man-suit or possess a willing vehicle. God did the unthinkable and humbled Himself and fully took on human flesh. The Creator became a creature, the one who held the cosmos was held by a mother. Jesus kept his Divine Nature, but acquired a human nature no different from any human being on the planet. He felt our pain, bore our pain, and restored the possibility of a relationship with God.
Celebrations have been going on for two thousand years as a result of this good news. Who can blame anyone for wanting to join the fun? Of course, you shouldn’t be the kind of bore that comes to someone else’s house and demands that they adopt your habits. The Ugly Secularist, like the Ugly American, is a bad guest when he demands that other people party so as not to offend their narrow vision of reality.
God provides new clothes—a fresh start for our souls—for the party. We ought to let Jesus be born into our hearts and provide this change. We can be Christmas by letting Jesus and His spirit be born in us and not just celebrate the glory of Christmas past!
No Christian, certainly not me, is up to the glorious, jovial merriment of Heaven. Some Christians ban Christmas out of fear of the liberty that Jesus has given us. Those puritanical souls fear Christmas would be an excuse for sin, so they sinned for certain by banning it. Others want to sin at the party, putting nasty things in the punch bowl, ruining it for themselves and the rest of humanity. They ban joyful and innocent Christmas parties, because joy and innocence remind them too much of what they have lost.
Sin always gets serious, as anybody looking at secular revelers by the end of the evening learns. Christ wants us to pace our party into eternity. If we demand that life become a secular party, then He even provides a place for those who wish to ban joy to the world in the name of their narrow philosophy, but we probably do not really want to go there.