Many Christians wonder if the true meaning of Christmas has been lost. I share this concern. There are people who have never been to church in their lives who celebrate Christmas. I bet you could even find atheists who celebrate Christmas. Of course, they celebrate it as a secular holiday. Of course, other religions also celebrate their own religious holy days during this time. So in the stores we see signs that say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. That is the store’s decision. But we can always say Merry Christmas.
There are also, of course, the people who celebrate Christmas and it (and perhaps Easter) is the only time they come to church. Sometimes, we might think it is about time they came to church. When these people say “it was a wonderful Mass” at Christmas, you feel like saying, ‘Well, we have Mass every Sunday if you want to join us.’
I could write about all the reasons people don’t come to church. Or I could write how we need to reclaim Christmas as a Christian holy day. In fact, I think I will write how we might reclaim Christmas but perhaps not in the way you think.
How do we reclaim Christmas?
Do we need to put posters up around town or run ads in the newspaper inviting people to our Christmas Masses? That’s not a bad idea. We should definitely let our family and friends know what the Christmas schedule is and invite them to come with us. But what are we inviting them to?
Obviously, we are inviting them to Mass. First, we need to get them to church but that is not enough. We are called to make them feel welcome. This starts with saying hello when they arrive and Merry Christmasas they leave. We need to make sure they know God loves them. We need to celebrate Mass with joy. In short, we need to give them a reason to want to come back.
Jesus welcomed all and made they feel wanted. We are called to do the same.
We reclaim Christmas as a Christian holiday not by forcing it on people. We better reclaim Christmas by sharing with people what Christmas means to us, the story of our Savior Jesus Christ being born to redeem us. We reclaim Christmas by living as Christ calls us to live. At Christmas people become very generous in helping the less fortunate. This shows our faith. We help others because Jesus first helped us. It is all done out of love, love that we are called to share all the time.
In all this we offer fertilizer to the seed of faith that God has given each person.