Has Christ been left out of Christmas?

Published 10:54 am Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A trip to one of the area malls in the last few days didn’t give any sort of initial indication the economy is in the tank.

People hurriedly moving from store to store through crowded walkways, large sale signs to lure shoppers and scarce spaces in parking lots were just some of the hints that Christmas Day was drawing near.

And because of this type of spending each December, there is always criticism from many that the purpose of the holiday gets lost in all the rush. They argue the idol of Santa Claus has surpassed the religious meaning behind Dec. 25.

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Some claim flatly that Christ has left out of Christmas.

Well, there is no question that some children feel a sense of entitlement because, well, they’re kids. It’s also true many people will spend more time and money in shopping centers than they will at church this time of year. And it cannot be denied that Christmas symbols not being displayed on government property has discouraged many people of faith.

But it seems that the real spirit of Christmas is very much alive, it just shows up in increments that might not seem significant individually but tell a whole different story collectively.

It might be the cross around the neck of an employee at a local store, someone holding a door open for an elderly person as the chilly wind whips by or the smiles on children’s faces as they see the beautiful lights of the season.

And as for the presents, well, Christ is even there, too. People go out each year and stretch their budgets to the limit and beyond in order to give not to themselves, but to others.

The anxiety of the season comes from a desire to give, whether that be to children or other family members who are the real treasures. Families will gather around Christmas trees stocked with ornaments filled with memories that will not be forgotten, even if the presents beneath them will.

All that anxiety goes by the wayside when those presents are shared and something special happens in that one moment when they’re opened. The giver is greeted with a smile and a thank you, but more importantly a recognition that the receiver understands they are cared for and thought about.

But perhaps the most impressive aspect of the giving season comes to those who might not have the means to give. The food drives, toy drives and gift baskets that circulate through America are too numerous to calculate and the commitment from churches and various civic organizations makes it perfectly clear that Christians have a full understanding that we are our brother’s keeper.

So with all the love, dedication and kindness that exists on this day and throughout the Christmas season, even if it goes undetected by many, how can we say with any degree of seriousness that Christ has been left out of Christmas?

Rick Greene is the managing editor of The Ironton Tribune. He can be reached at (740) 532-1441, ext. 12, or by e-mail at rick.greene@irontontribune.com.