May I start by wishing you all the joy and peace which is in Christ Jesus this Christmas
I was sad and angry when I read the Christmas messages of church leaders in the newspapers this Christmas.
During the year in my home state of Victoria (Australia) the anti-Christian lobby has felt strong enough to come out of the woodwork. Two examples churches could not fail to notice were these:
One, Christian education in schools. The State schools had allowed half an hour per week for children whose parents did not object to receive Christian Education on a government approved syllabus using volunteer teachers from the various churches. During my ministry the content of this syllabus has been progressively watered down for fear of offending anyone or appearing to proselytize. eventually it had been so emptied of any Christian content that it had become just a social studies course dressed up in a few Bible verses, teaching the secular sentiments of the day.
Towards the end of 2015 even that was banned from state schools by the government.
Then as Christmas neared, the government issued a decree that from next year the singing of Christmas carols, and indeed any songs which mentioned God would be banned from State Schools. There would of course be no nativity plays or nativity scenes in classrooms.
“Blind Freddy” as the saying goes, should have concluded that there was a powerful lobby strongly opposed the Christianity, who wanted the message of Christ swept from the national consciousness.
Then came the newspaper clips of the church leaders' Christmas messages. All on the theme “make room in the inn of your hearts for strangers” - especially Syrian refugees.
These leaders might have though they were being topical – they were actually a couple of centuries in the past. A past where the whole nation was at least nominally Christian, a past where they were maybe the official religion of the land, a past where the Gospel was (in theory if not in practice!) so well known that it could be taken for granted and a homily about attitudes was acceptable.
These people, called to be shepherds and watchmen, had failed to see the change that had crept up on Christian nations over the past few centuries. They have been sleeping on watch!
The message they should have been giving to a nation well on the way to forgetting about God was this: “Christmas: celebrating the saving love and power of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit: God the Son enters the world he created as one of us, as a human baby. His purpose to be the greatest revelation of who God is: to show God's love, and to be God's love in dying for our sins, to show and be the power of God in rising from the dead, breaking the power of sin and death.”