A Cafeteria Christmas

Children who grow up in Christian households in the U.S. are taught from an early age on that the true meaning of Christmas is about celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But they quickly come to realize that Christmas also means Santa Claus is going to bring them presents if they are good. 

At some point children come to understand that Santa Claus is really the American version of St. Nicholas, Kris Kringle, Sinterklaas, and Father Christmas, a jolly old elf brought to life in the early 1800s with the publication of “A Visit from St. Nicholas” better known today as “The Night Before Christmas.”  The momentary shock and confusion this new knowledge that ‘Santa Claus isn’t real’ brings is quickly overcome by the realization that mom and dad are Santa Claus and have been all along. The Christmas presents will continue.

But for most people the idea of Santa Claus never goes away. Santa has become part of our culture and the retailers, advertising, and the TV networks make sure that the gift giving aspect of Christmas -- that we all need to dig deep and buy presents for everyone we know -- is the first rule in keeping the spirit of the season alive. These days the big retailers have their Christmas displays set up in early November hoping to remind us to shop early and shop often lest we forget someone. And for the truly adventurous the displays are a reminder that Black Friday is just around the corner. 

Hollywood does its part as well with so many Santa Claus themed movies and movies like Home Alone and A Christmas Story, and Christmas Vacation that depict Christmases devoid of Jesus, the Holy Family, and celebrating the birth of our Lord by going to Church. 

With so much emphasis on Santa Claus, buying presents, decorating, Christmas parties, and even turkeys and food, it’s not that hard to understand why a nation that has seen church attendance by members of all Christian denominations consistently falling off over the last few decades is now struggling to keep its Judeo-Christian heritage alive. 

“Jesus is the reason for the season” doesn’t play well with moral relativism, atheism, individualism, or scientism. The attacks by the secular relativists on ‘organized religion’ on almost a daily basis for so many years now have persuaded today’s young people (and even many not so young people) that all the great Christian thinkers over the last 2,000 years got it all wrong. We don’t need moral truths and rules. As modern, thoughtful, intelligent, civilized human beings we are smart enough to make up our own moral truths and follow our own conscious. All we really need to do is love one another and be tolerant of each other’s views and everything else will somehow magically fall into place. 

In today’s world, going to church for many is just not important. It’s one of ‘those rules’ that ‘organized religions’ made to make sure the collection plate gets filled. It’s just another demand on the limited amount of time we have to get everything done that we need to do. 

‘I don’t have to go to church to praise God,’ far too many modern-day Christians say, but then these modern Christians forget to praise God because the football game is on, or think they that just thinking about God, tweeting out ‘Praise God,’ or posting a picture of cross on their Facebook page fulfills the obligation to keep Holy the Sabbath. For today’s cafeteria Christian, the Third Commandment is open to interpretation. As such going to church on Sunday, and so too on Christmas or on Easter, is optional as well.  

In the final analysis, the reasons for not going to Church are nothing more than excuses for not going to church, and they are as many as the number of pages in the IRS code. 

If all the Christians in this county actually became participating members of a Catholic or Protestant congregation and started going to Church and living their beliefs, the practitioners of moral relativism, atheism, individualism, and scientism wouldn’t be able to point to surveys saying membership in organized religions is dwindling as justification for saying religious beliefs are unimportant when it comes to making laws and governing our country. 

Going to Church on Christmas day might be a good starting point. Jesus really is the reason for the season.  

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