“Christmas is your ally in the tussle between faith and unbelief,” Larsen argues in his article “No One Took Christ out of Christmas.” It’s “Christianity at its most inviting.” How many Christmas movies end with a peaceful church scene where the characters at last resolve their inner conflicts? Larsen writes, “Our entire culture is geared up during the holiday season to make it easier to talk about Jesus. Even the Salvation Army [disparaged much of the year for its stance on gay marriage] suddenly somehow becomes part of mainstream culture.”
For years I have heard of missionaries in countries where Christianity is a minority religion, gathering neighbors or their English students for a Christmas party in which they explain what this holiday their friends have seen on American TV is all about. The story of the promised Child opens hearts to God’s love. Can God do that in our country?
In 2020 most performances of George Fredric Handel’s Messiah were cancelled. This year a few are happening. But even without public performance, many will be listening to the much-loved music throughout the season. More than any other book I have written, The Gospel According to George expresses the core of my heart: Messiah—promised, given, raised and reigning—expressed in Handel’s powerful music. As Sylvia Scott and I crafted the text and chose the music excerpts, we had in mind those standing at the edge, looking in on a faith that has endured millennia and embraced every culture of the world. We don’t need them to look at a church that has failed its Lord at so many points, but at Jesus himself, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
We choose how we will celebrate Christmas—parties, visits to Santa, piles of presents or a feast in celebration of the promised Child born one night in Bethlehem. (That doesn’t mean no presents with the feast; the Magi brought them to Jesus, too!) The point is not how we celebrate, but whom we celebrate. Perhaps this year as you focus on Messiah’s birth, you will venture into conversations about him with those around you who are standing on the edge of faith, longing for that moment of holy awe, to know Messiah himself. I would love to hear about what happens when you do.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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