Christmas and Sentimentalism

This is the second Lord’s Day of Advent, the year of our Lord, 2005.

We must never forget that an essential part of the Christmas story is the stark reality of sin. We have already noted that our culture’s instinct of marking this holiday by giving gifts, giving lots of stuff, is an instinct that is sound at the base. This is a celebration of Incarnation, of material embodiment of the greatest Gift ever given. And so of course, we mark and celebrate this with lots of material stuff.

But all our cultural instincts are not quite so helpful. One of the less helpful traditions is the relegation of this entire story into a vat of sentimental goo. Feel good emotions are the order of the day, and those feel good emotions are detached from any sense of deliverance from sin. We forget that Rachel weeping for her slaughtered children is very much a part of the Christmas story—as much a part of it as the shepherds, and the angels, and the star, and the wise men. This is a story of the infants who were butchered by a tyrannical king, and the one infant who was spared in order to grow up and die for the sins of His people.

This story has death woven through it—the backdrop is death, and sin, and tyranny. We celebrate at this time, not because we live in a sentimentalist paradise where there has never any evil, but only gently falling snow and the sound of sleigh bells in the distance. We celebrate the birth of the one who overthrew the principalities and powers. This is not a holiday that commemorates the essential sweetness and goodness of man. It is a holiday that commemorates the beginning of the story of how it came about that death finally was killed, and how the warrior who did this great thing was spared in His infancy.

This is why the continued celebration of Christmas is a standing threat to the secularists who want to remove every vestige of it from the public square. I dare say they do. They understand it better than we do. Merry Christmas really means tyranny is dead.

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