The Silencing of Christmas

The Question

Outside a blizzard was brewing (and yet another storm is blowing across the land where good has become evil and evil good).

Inside, a crackling fire in the fireplace comforts eight-year old Timothy James O’Brien and his grandmother, Maggie, with cozy warmth. Positioned on the floor in front of the TV, Timothy was enjoying Charlie Brown’s Christmas special, perhaps for the last time.

The credits were now rolling, marking the end of that popular Christmas program.

Timothy’s grandmother relaxed in her wingback chair, her feet propped on the accompanying ottoman, enjoying a pre-bedtime snooze; her head tucked back in the corner of a wing. Her mouth open, occasionally a faint snore slips out.

Timothy didn’t want to disturb her, but a question had been bothering him all day long. Rising to his feet, he approached his grandmother.

“Grammy,” Timothy said softly. Nudging her gently, he whispered, “Are you asleep?”

His Grammy uttered a loud snort; her head twitched.

“What?” Grammy said, being startled from her sleep. “Oh, Timothy, my boy.” Straightening up in her chair, she removed her feet from the ottoman. The remote in her hand, she turned off the TV. “What is it?” she asked.

“Grammy, is there a Christmas?” Timothy asked, startling his Grammy a bit.

“Now, whatever brought that on?” Grammy then asked. “Of course there is,” she continued, reaching for an old, worn, well read Bible on the side table. “Your question was 'is there a Christmas?’ Patting the Bible, she declared, “Now you remember this: If you see it here, then it is so.”

“I know,” replied Timothy, “I learn about it in Sunday school, but in my third grade class today, during our 'holiday' party, nothing was said about Christmas. I’d asked to sing ‘Away in the Manger,’ but the teacher said we couldn’t sing that because it's ‘religious’. I didn’t like any of those other songs we sang – Over the Rainbow, Home on the Range, Winter Wonderland, Santa Claus is Coming to Town – or anything else about that party. I wanted to sing about Jesus. So, I’m wondering,” he concluded, his young brow sprouting a worried concern, “Is there really a Christmas?”

“Hm-m,” Grammy thought, “Now that sounds like a question for Pastor Jacobs. Why don’t you ask him tomorrow after church when he is here for lunch?”

“Okay," grinned Timothy, nodding assuredly.

The Busy Sidewalks

Sunday, and the town square’s clock strikes high noon. “Ah, rise and shine you sleepy heads,” that evil one exclaims, waking up his crowd to his ideals, yet that clash with the ideals of the real world. “Those church services have concluded,” he continued. “You can get up now.”

Those of that other world now stir from their sleep, at last rising from beneath their cozy comforters of temporal warmth to a bright new, yet frigid day.

Yet, where once the city streets, dressed in holiday style, were practically void of traffic, except for those of the real world going to church a few hours earlier, they again bustle with vehicles. City sidewalks and malls, too, now busy themselves with shoppers seemingly unaware of the real purpose of the season (to the glee of the evil one), rushing frantically, hunting for that priceless gift for that once-a-year friend.

Children laughing, people passing, meeting smile after smile; the sound of bells rings out the feeling of Christmas. To the dismay of the evil one, screaming, scowling at all those nativities sprouting up everywhere, presenting that Baby on a bed of straw, and mother and father, cattle, sheep, and shepherds, “What’s all this, and all that caroling and ding-a-linging going on; it’s just another shopping day.”

Streetlights even stop lights, blinking their bright red and green, as shoppers rush about with their treasures. Hear the snow crunch, see the kids bunch; this is Santa’s big scene. Above it all those bells are still heard, ringing out “it’s Christmastime in the city” (to the continuing despairing scream of the evil one).

“Mother,” a child tugs at his parent’s coattail, “Look, there’s Santa Claus again. He seems to be everywhere. Can I visit him here as well? I wonder if he remembers what I told him I want for Christmas at that other mall?”

“Of course he remembers,” his mother said. “He’s Santa Clause; he knows everything; and he never forgets. You don’t want to get in that long line again, do you?” his mother sighs, pleading with her son not to do so.

“But can I see him again, ple-e-e-a-s-e,” the child also pleading, all the harder.

The parent at last gives in to her son’s demand, and waits another long while as her child waits for a second time to greet that camouflaged man, white bearded, wearing a red suit.

What Christmas Really Is

Timothy and his grandmother, residents of the real world through their faith in the true Reason for the season, return home from church that Sunday. They welcome Pastor Jacobs and his family for lunch. After dining, Timothy, recalling Grammy’s suggestion, asks the pastor his question, “Is there really a Christmas?”

Gathering his thoughts, the pastor then responds: "Yes, Timothy, there is a Christmas. And it’s all about Jesus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.

“They exist because they are a part of Jesus, who brought it all into being. How dreary this world would be if there was no Christmas! It would be as dreary as if there were no Timothys," the pastor said. "Not believe in Christmas,” he continued, “you might as well not believe in life.

"It was God who started it all, perfectly. He became one of us on Christmas day. Through Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection, we have a real status symbol. I guess you could say His sacrifice for all people – of His day and ours’ – was the 'ultimate Christmas gift.'

“No Christmas! No Jesus! Thank God! Jesus lives and lives forever. For a thousand years from now, Timothy – nay, for all eternity. Those who accept God's gift of life become His children, and will have the continual joy of Christmas the whole year through.” The pastor concluded, “And 'Merry Christmas', then, is understood and appreciated.”

Silenced Yet Not Quieted

Bounding down the stair steps in high spirits Monday morning, Timothy greets his Grammy and enjoys the delicious breakfast she had prepared for them both. Timothy’s favorite this morning – hot cakes and link sausage, topped with melted butter and honey. “Um-m,” and a glass fresh squeezed orange juice. How could anyone ask for anything better, was Timothy’s thought, just three days of school before the Christmas break?

"Merry Christmas!" Grammy said, eyeing his sweatshirt, after giving her grandson a grand hug, his sweatshirt also expressing the Reason for the season.

"Merry Christmas, to you too, Grammy," responded Timothy. "I just gotta let my class know what this season is all about," he said, pointing to his sweatshirt.

"Good for you, my boy," Grammy encouraged.

Having finished with breakfast, Timothy then all bundled up to confront the frigid air outside, Grammy sends him out the door to catch the arriving school bus.

Arriving at school, Timothy enters his classroom still wearing his “Merry Christmas” sweatshirt expressing his joy for being, yet to the dismay of his teacher. By their smiles, however, some of his classmates appreciated seeing his joy expressed so outward.

“This violates school policy, you know that, don’t you Timothy?” the teacher stated. “Therefore, I must ask you to remove that sweatshirt.”

"Yes, Ma'am," Timothy responded, "I understand. But I'm sorry, I just can't take it off, just yet anyway, without you first giving me a chance to explain, please, what Merry Christmas is all about.”

“I know what ‘Merry Christmas’ is all about, Timothy,” the teacher explained. “But, I also know The Rules. And so do you, Timothy,” she continued, “As do all the other children in this classroom. And now, please, remove that sweatshirt. I wish to have no disruptions this last week of school before my winter break.”

Timothy’s noncompliance to his teacher’s demands, found himself facing the school principal.

"Timothy, I'm so very surprised,” the principal said. “This is not like you. I'm sending you home for the rest of the day that you may think about this stunt you’ve pulled. Do you understand?"

"Yes, Sir," Timothy responded. “But, won't you even let me explain what 'Merry Christmas' is all about?" Timothy pleaded, desiring to share what his pastor shared with him the other day.

"I know all about Christmas, Timothy, but there's no room for it here, as states The Rules,” was the principal's final word. He would hear no more.

Silenced to share Jesus, tears swelled Timothy’s eyes; yet, his Merry Christmas sweatshirt is still unremoved.

Jesus removed from this public school; that evil one aspiring a hateful glare applauded at his plan gaining momentum, and the new Rules being enforced throughout the land where good has become evil and evil good.

And so, the clash continues, as those of the real world – believing in the true Reason for the season – cannot be kept silent; they are compelled to speak of the things they have seen and heard. Claiming the victory, therefore, already won by their Master, they press on in His cause.

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