I could not believe it! This morning I discovered that my wife had bought what are essentially secular Christmas cards. True, they are beautiful cards – bought from the Royal Academy no less. But they depict holly, and not Jesus. There is nothing about the Christmas story.
The same is true of some Christmas cards on sale in our church: one card features Father Christmas carrying a Christmas tree; another card depicts a robin on a stylised Christmas tree; only the third depicts Bethlehem and the crib. Again I feel embarrassed: for these cards are being sold in aid of a charity of which I am patron.
Not surprisingly, if many Christians are no longer buying cards depicting the Christmas story, neither are people outside the church doing so. A survey by the Daily Mail last December revealed that of 5363 cards in major supermarkets, only 45 had pictures of the Bible story. The breakdown was as follows:
Asda had only 18 Christmas cards depicting any part of the Christmas story out of 1848; Tesco had 12 cards out of 1673; Sainsbury’s had 9 out of 869; and Morrison’s had 6 out of 973
In other words, traditional nativity scenes appear on less than 1% of all cards available. We are in effect ‘airbrushing’ Christ out of Christmas.
I believe that as Christians we need to think again about the cards we send. Unconsciously no doubt, many of us are taking Christ out of Christmas. We need to take a stand against the increasing secularism of our age. We need to let our friends and relatives know that ‘Jesus is the reason for the season’.
This in turn reminds me of the need for us to check the words of greeting which appear in the cards we buy. To my mind ‘Season’s greetings’ are fine for a Jew or Hindu to send, but they are not good enough for
Christian people to send. Christmas is not just a ‘Winter Festival’. Nor for that matter is it just a celebration of love and peace, goodwill and generosity. It is a celebration of the birth of Jesus.
Yes, God has invaded our world: ‘The Word became a human being”, declared John. Or as Eugene Peterson puts it: “The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood”. This is the good news of Christmas. Let’s not be shy. Let’s affirm our faith, not least in the Christmas cards we choose to send.
Published at 12 p.m.
Paul is the chairman of Ministry Today, as also the College of Baptist Ministers, and from 1993 – 2014 was Senior Minister of Central Baptist Church, Chelmsford. He can be contacted at [email protected].
© Paul Beasley-Murray, 2010 - 2015.
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