In 1994, I attended a Christmas party for youths at an inner city church. There were thirty to forty youngsters between the ages of three and ten years old. The kids were mostly from homes where the mothers had drug/alcohol problems and the fathers were long absent from the homes. Although the children were poor, they wore their best clothes for the party.
The kids sat in a circle in the middle of the church’s basement. I sat between two of the youngest girls who alternated between sitting on their chairs and on my lap. Both were too excited to sit still.
The young teacher asked, “Why do you like Christmas?” She pointed to a child and added, “Okay, let’s start with you and go around the circle. Each can answer that question for us.”
One by one, they stood up and gave their answers. Each mentioned Jesus a little bit and then quickly added, “I sure hope I get such and such toy for Christmas.”
This continued in this manner until a seven-year old boy stood up. “We don’t believe in Christmas!” he proclaimed and sat down with his arms folded across his chest.
All of the other kids gasped, not understanding why the boy said what he did.
The little boy’s mother stood up. “Yes, we don’t celebrate Christmas. December 25th is not even when Jesus was born and is in fact the date of a pagan holiday.” She continued on for five minutes in a diatribe about how it was wrong to celebrate the holiday of Christmas.
Finally, she sat down.
The little children sat there stunned by her words. They looked like they had just heard their pet had been run over by a Mac truck. Their faces revealed their hurt.
I felt the Holy Spirit come upon me and I stood up.
“Yes, she may be right that December 25th is not the exact day for Jesus’ birth, but who really cares about the exact date? He was born and loves us now. Yes, December 25th may have been a pagan holiday, but who even remembers that stupid god except a bunch of fuddy-duddy Christians. That god is long dead and Jesus is alive. As far as pagan holidays go, the other 364 days of the year are all pagan holidays for one god or another. But this one day of the year, Jesus has reclaimed for Himself. If you happen to live in any nation of the world and hear the word ‘Christmas,’ you will learn that a man named Jesus was born on that day. So, let’s enjoy this one day when our Lord Jesus is remembered by the whole world.”
I sat down and every kid jumped with joy. The party continued onward.
The woman ended up coming up to me afterward. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I was wrong to push my ideas on the group and I felt you spoke the word of the Lord to me and everyone. Forgive me.”
The memory of that particular party still reverberates in my heart. I love Christmas.