One of my favorite Christmas movies is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. I know it’s a dubious admission for a church blog. Nevertheless, I find some of Chevy Chase’s humor to be, well, humorous. My favorite line in the movie comes when cousin Eddie surprises Clark after they arrived in time to see Clark finally successfully got the Christmas lights on his house to work.
Eddie asked Clark “You surprised?” Clark, who is not very fond of Eddie, responded “Surprised, Eddie?… If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am now.”
While watching this Christmas movie recently, however, I discovered it contained a pernicious lie about Christmas. Near the end Clark reflected on seeing a light in the neighborhood, identified by Uncle Lewis as the light from the sewage treatment plant. “It’s the Christmas Star, and that’s all that matters tonight. Not bonuses or gifts, or turkeys or trees. See kids, it means something different to everybody. Now I know what it means to me.”
This feel-good, postmodern comment by Clark doesn’t enhance the meaning of Christmas. Rather, it attempts to destroy it. See, kids, if Christmas means something different to everyone, Christmas has no meaning at all.
To Clark, the true meaning of Christmas was to give his family a wonderful Christmas experience and to bless them with a pool. To Clark’s boss, Frank Shirley, it was to cancel Christmas bonuses and give out one-year subscriptions to the Jelly of the Month Club. To Margo and Todd it was to avoid things that are dirty and messy and corny and clichéd. But these different meanings ultimately clashed. Clark’s meaning of a loud, celebratory Christmas interfered with Todd and Margo’s meaning of a subdued, secluded Christmas. Frank Shirley’s idea of Christmas that did not mess with the company’s financial bottom line conflicted with Clark’s Christmas ideal of making his family happy.
Because postmodernism doesn’t believe in a fixed, absolute truth, everyone defines his own “truth.” This failed philosophy is irrationally comfortable with believing in contradictory, and self-refuting truth claims. “There is no truth.” “Truth is not knowable.” “No one has the truth.” What’s true for you may not be true for me.” “Christmas means something different to everybody.”
Despite Griswold’s postmodern philosophy, Christmas has a fixed meaning. This meaning has been the same for 2000 years. That Christmas message is that Light has come into the world to make a way for us to escape the darkness.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.” John 1:5, 9. “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and the people loved darkness rather than light because their works are evil.” John 3:19. Light brings knowledge of God. “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shone in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6.
Some, however, want to extinguish that Light because they prefer the darkness. Groups like the Military Religious Freedom Foundation swoop onto military installations with supposed complaints from anonymous service members to get Nativity scenes removed from places like Shaw Air Force Base and Guantanamo. Brave warriors, trained to fight despite fear, then cower at MRFF’s demands and remove the offensive Light without a fight. This type of cowardice goes on throughout our country where public schools remove “Christ the Savior” from “Silent Night” and a Christmas tree from school grounds.
What turns brave men into moral cowards? Atheism really is not to blame. The philosophy that has been the most successful in creating moral cowards by hiding the Light of Christmas is the postmodern philosophy of Clark W. Griswold. The reason why there is a war on a specific meaning of Christmas is not because people do not believe in God. This war is because a majority of the rest of the country believes just like Clark Griswold, that Christmas means something different to everyone.
You see, kids, if we can define our own meaning of Christmas, we don’t have to worry about the consequences of sin. We get to choose our own morality and define our own “reality.” We can then believe in God and still reject His sovereignty. Clark Griswold’s philosophy has even been expressed by our Supreme Court in its terrible Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision where it reaffirmed the right to kill children in the womb. “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”
The philosophy of Clark W. Griswold, and the Supreme Court, is wrong. Christmas cannot mean something different to everybody. The ultimate meaning of Christmas must mean the same thing to everyone.
The only true meaning of Christmas is the Gospel of Christ. He is that Light and is the only source for our salvation. That meaning of Christmas handed down from generation to generation is that the Light had come into the world that first Christmas morn. That Light of Christmas is the only hope for mankind that wallows in sin and error pining. The only meaning of Christmas is that the Light was born that man no more may die. That Light was born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth. Because of that Light, the Christmas bells can peal more loud and deep, “God is not dead, nor does he sleep.” Justice now revokes the sentence. Mercy calls you, “Break your chains.” Because of that Light we have hope that the wrong shall fail, the right prevail with peace on earth good will to men!
Our only response is to come and worship Christ, the newborn King!