In just a few weeks, Christmas will arrive once again. With most holidays, we use the word, happy, in our greetings: Happy Easter, Happy Thanksgiving, Happy New Year, Happy Valentine’s Day…. But Christmas is different. We don’t say, “Happy Christmas.” We say, “Merry Christmas.”
The word, merry, is defined as “full of cheerfulness or gaiety, joyous in disposition or spirit, characterized by festivity and rejoicing.” If we were to remove the term, merry, from the Christmas greeting, we would only be saying, “Christmas to you.”
Through the years, the “merry” or spirit of Christmas has dwindled in our society. Just as the Holy Spirit makes our lives joyful and complete, so does the spirit of Christmas. When it disappears, Christmas loses its significance and true meaning.
As the celebration of the earthly birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Christmas is our most important observance. Members of the builder generation can remember when merchants dressed their store windows with Christmas scenes and lined the aisles with seasonal decorations that pointed to the true meaning of this holy day. As time passed, however, businesses began to back away from specifically Christian decorations, even replacing the “Merry Christmas” sign on the door with “Happy Holidays.”
As my heart was strongly burdened to put the spirit back in Christmas, I felt God gave me a slogan: “Light It Up!” Light up your homes, your streets, your churches! Go all out to put the spirit back in this extraordinary day.
At Tree of Life Church, a 150-year-old oak tree stands grandly at the main road. We will be decorating this stately oak with thousands of lights. (I hope it will be seen from the space station!) We will be performing a drive-through nativity, and we have registered to participate in the Lynchburg Christmas Parade with a float featuring the theme of putting the spirit back in Christmas.
If we all work together, we can do just that. Whether you can do something like we are doing at Tree of Life, or if you can do more, let’s all do something to light up the world for the Light of the World. We can do this by promoting celebrations, decorations, and everyone’s participation. Christmas without Merry, or the spirit, is just another day.
Will you join us by lighting it up with bright lights and decorations, plays and musicals?
To those who own businesses: light up that facility and trust God to take care of the customers who may not appreciate it.
On the night of November 25, we will be flipping the switch to light up the big oak tree in Lynchburg, Virginia. I hope and pray you will join me and light up that night in your area as well.
Thank you, and let’s light it up for Jesus, the One who was lifted up for us.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, NKJV).
Rev. Mike Dodson is pastor of Tree of Life Ministries in Lynchburg, Virginia, and Assistant Superintendent of the Appalachian Conference.