The anti-religious placard placed in the State Capital in Washington State along side a Christmas tree and a manger scene have inadvertently served to point out the true meaning of Christmas. How is that so?
The Freedom from Religion Foundation based in Madison, Wisconsin placed a placard next to the manger scene in the Washington State Capital in early December 2008 that has a clearly anti-Christian message. In part it says "There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."
Each year America is inundated with "true meaning of Christmas" specials on the television and in films and books. As the commercial aspect of Christmas swells each year like a behemoth on growth hormones these specials mean less and less year by year.
It is said that the minute you try to consciously become different than everyone else that effort makes you just the same. It is this reasoning that causes many Americans to see the atheistic movement as just another religion. The fervor with which the atheists are now actively attacking religion today certainly lends credence to the adage. Atheists who actually confront religious people or displays can be thought of as evangelists for their cause. Looks religious to me!
It is where the atheists don't put up signs and carry on protests that points to the true meaning of Christmas. Although unintended their conspicuous absence in the commercial side of the advent speaks voluminously to the real meaning of Christmas.
Of the millions of television ads about the "perfect gift" no one has ever seen an ad on the box about not buying a gift for anyone in the "natural" world. Would the advertisers make such a commercial for the atheists? The answer to that may be dependent on the merchants who make between one quarter and one third of their annual income during the Christmas season. No, would be the safest answer to this question.
Would the cash cow fed by Christmas television specials and films be willing to produce a major movie or TV special on why we should all stay home on Christmas without family and friends and enjoy the "natural" world around us? Even atheists may not want to be called "Scrooge" by the public or the Grinch. It would be easier to scale Mount Everest than to climb that mountain of public disdain. Obviously atheists don't go there.
Are the atheists found at the uncountable office parties around the nation and the globe with pamphlets explaining the "natural" world and their Godless views? Do they offer an alternative gathering where there are no gifts, decorations or mention of Christmas? Who and about how many would attend these gatherings? During the Christmas season attendance may be just ever so slightly above zero.
Would the atheists be willing to parade carrying their anti-Christmas placards in front of Neiman Marcus or Macy's stores? How long would they be welcomed by those businesses if they did?
Most atheistic groups only show up to protest religious scenes like the manger or the Star of Bethlehem which indicates that even they know the true meaning of Christmas. They know it isn't about gifts, parties or commercial activity. It is and always will be about a babe in the manger who was sent to die for the sins of the world.
An old seminary professor once told me that not even the babe in the manger is the best picture of the true meaning of Christmas. He said that to truly understand Christmas or the incarnation you had to ponder something far more wonderful than a babe in the manger which is; God in a baby.
When this universally important fact is understood something begins to happen in a man or a woman that is the exact opposite of the message placed in the Washington Capital building. Instead of being but a "myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds" it becomes the "truth that softens the heart and frees the mind."
The Angel Gabriel that appeared to the prophet Daniel over seven hundred years before the birth of Christ came to Mary the mother of Jesus and said "...behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end."
Although she was a holy woman who loved God and was dedicated to serving him she could hardly understand the message she was given. But when her child grew and certain men were chosen to walk with him for three years and witness the dead being raised and the blind given sight and much more, then it became easier to see what Mary was told. The greatest explanation of the incarnation and the manger scene was later penned by the Apostle Paul in this single statement.
"To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself ..." (2 Corinthians 5:19) After this saying there remains only one thing left to say and that is...Merry Christmas
Copyright ©2008 Rev. Michael Bresciani