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Banishing the Humbugs

December 22, 2016 No Comment
President Thomas Prachar

President Thomas Prachar

by Thomas Prachar

In Charles Dickens’ short story, “A Christmas Carol,” the words of Ebenezer Scrooge are as true today as when Dickens first put them in his mouth: “I live in a world of fools…. Merry Christmas after Merry Christmas…. What is Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money, a time for finding yourself a year older and not an hour richer? If I could work my will, every idiot who goes about with Merry Christmas on his lips should be boiled with his own Christmas pudding and burned with a stake of holly through his heart…Merry Christmas! Friends! Love! What could be more idiotic! Bah! Humbug!”

As Christians we are not immune to Scrooge’s cynical attitude. We can prepare for Christmas on the world’s terms and come away with only weariness and disappointment, for this world always takes more than it gives. We need a change of attitude that takes away our cynical, “Bah, humbug!” outlook.

That’s what the true meaning of Christmas can do for us. God sent His Son into the world in the person of Jesus, the Christ. He willingly left His throne in heaven to live among us and become human, born of a humble woman in a simple manger stall. He came into this world to deal once and for all with our greatest enemies: sin, death, and the power of the devil. He lived in this world as true man and true God, living the perfect life that you and I cannot live no matter how hard we try. He then offered that perfect life on Calvary’s cross as the complete and total payment for your sins and mine. To complete His work, our Saviour rose from the dead proving that death and the devil could not lay claim to Him.

By believing in Jesus as our Saviour, our fear of Christmas with its accompanying “Bah, humbug!” attitude is changed. Have you ever noticed how many times in the events of the first Christmas, fears were turned to joy? “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John” (Luke 1:13). An angel appears to Joseph and says, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21). An angel reassures Mary with the words, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus” (Luke 1:30-31. And an angel tells the shepherds, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).

Joy that is genuine, joy that lasts is possible this Christmas for it comes to us through faith in Jesus. The prophet Zephaniah writes: “Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!…Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak.” That joy and peace are yours to discover again this Advent and Christmas season.

Joy that is genuine, joy that lasts is possible this Christmas for it comes to us through faith in Jesus.

The familiar carol, “O Little Town of Bethlehem” contains these words at the end of the first verse: “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” In the Christ-child of Bethlehem, all of our fears are neutralized. We have a Saviour in whom we hope! He will make this Advent and Christmas the best and most meaningful of celebrations!

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Rev. Thomas Prachar is President of the Central District of Lutheran Church-Canada.