In the seventeenth century a law was passed in England banning Christmas because it encouraged feasting, extravagance, frivolity and drinking. The usual twelve days of festive merriment was replaced by one day of silent prayer and religious reflection. For some strange reason it didn’t go down very well. You may have noticed that 400 years later the powers that be are attempting to tamper with Christmas all over again but not for the same reasons as before. In the old days there wasn’t enough religion in Christmas but now, apparently, there’s way too much of the stuff.

The politically correct police are demanding that Jesus be completely and thoroughly airbrushed out of his birthday so as not to offend those who are very happy with a few days off work but would rather not hear any of that Christian rubbish as to why they’re actually getting the few days off work. It seems that our tolerant society is tolerant of everyone apart from those who’d quite like to retain some kind of national acknowledgement that Christmas is the moment when the God who is everywhere became somewhere in the form of his son as Heaven was opened and he came to live as a man.

There’s a story told of a guy who was handed an invite to a Carol Service in the lead up to Christmas some years ago. This was the caption at the top of the leaflet ‘Jesus the Light of the World’. The guy screwed it up in disgust and was overheard complaining that “They are even trying to force religion into Christmas!” If it wasn’t ironic, it would actually be funny. A survey was done a while ago that concluded that well over half of primary schools in England now replace traditional Nativity plays and Christmas celebrations with Winterfest or even Winterval and insist that pupils wish their friends ‘Seasonal Greetings’ as ‘Happy Christmas’ maybe offensive to those of a different persuasion.

But has Christianity made any difference to our lives? I think it has. Those who have encountered, followed and served Christ throughout history are some of the greatest pioneers of radical change that our society has ever seen. That could only have been possible if the baby born at Christmas was the same person who championed the cause of the downtrodden, was crucified on a Roman cross and then raised to life after three days returning to the Father with the promise that he make a way for us all and one day return in glory.

Jesus was born in Bethlehem because God loves this world and the people he has created and that includes you too. You can receive him today as your Father and experience his peace this Christmas and for the whole of your life.

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