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Happy Birthday, Jesus!

How do you celebrate Christmas?

By David Brandt Berg, December 1978
Manger scene with real people

NOW, I DON'T SAY IT'S BAD TO GIVE SOMEBODY A GIFT for Christmas if you want to. We give away gifts every month, thousands of them, to the missionaries and the people who need them. And we give them what they need too!--Money! But wasting your money on presents for people when you're not even sure what they need or would like or would use is foolish. I have received more junk for Christmas that I just turned around and gave away.

IMAGINE HOW MUCH THE WHOLE FAMILY MUST WASTE on Christmas if they have a tree which costs money and all those decorations which cost money. Now, sometimes a little tree is a good testimony to your neighbors and friends that you are Christians, and a reminder of what you are celebrating.

BUT THEN YOU BUY EACH OTHER PRESENTS, which cost money, and stuff they don't need wasting money. And it's a funny thing about Christmas, isn't it?--I got to thinking about this even when I was a young Christian:

HOW COME, IF IT'S JESUS' BIRTHDAY, WHY DON'T WE GIVE HIM PRESENTS instead of each other? And if it's His Birthday, instead of singing all this other stuff like "Deck the halls with boughs of holly" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and a lot of crazy songs they sing in the United States, I thought, why don't we sing "Happy Birthday, Dear Jesus"! I was always a fanatic about things like that! I'll never forget!

THEY WERE HAVING THIS CHRISTMAS PROGRAMME in our church, and they had Santa Claus there all dressed up passing out bags of candy to rot the children's teeth. And everybody was supposed to bring a present.--They drew names and they were supposed to bring a present for the one whose name they drew--which was a nice little school idea: You weren't supposed to spend more than 25 cents on the present and you just brought a present for one person. Even if it was your worst enemy, you had to buy them a present anyway.

AND THEY WERE HAVING THIS BIG CELEBRATION IN THE CHURCH BASEMENT, and this tree and Santa Claus all dressed up passing out bags of rotten candy. Even as a young Christian, I was kind of a fanatic rebel, and I literally stunned everybody!

I GOT SO MAD, THE LONGER I WATCHED and the more I saw, and I thought of that candy. I wouldn't touch a piece of that kind of rock crystal sugar candy! Giving these little kids bags of poison rots your teeth and rots your guts! And I was so mad! I was a young teenager.

I WAS DIRECTOR OF THE YOUNG PEOPLE at the time, and I was trying to teach the young people to be spiritual and love the Lord. And here they were having this pagan celebration and all this stuff that had nothing to do with Jesus, on His Birthday! And I got so mad!

AND RIGHT AT THE HEIGHT OF ALL THIS FOOLISHNESS I burst out with, "Happy Birthday to You! Happy Birthday to You!" And they started looking at me like I'd lost my mind!--Like I was crazy!--What was I doing singing "Happy Birthday" when this was Christmas! And I said:

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DEAR JESUS, Happy Birthday to You!" And all their faces fell, and they couldn't have looked more embarrassed because it really drove the point home! Here they were celebrating Christmas and they'd completely forgotten about the Lord, His Birthday, no presents for Jesus, no songs for Jesus. That's all I had to do. With some people I was a very unpopular wet blanket!

I'LL TELL YOU WHAT I HAVE DONE, THOUGH, IN RECENT YEARS: I've become a little bit more liberal about the world celebrating Christmas. I used to condemn the world and say, "Oh, how horrible! Look at the millions of dollars they spend every Christmas, and look at all the crazy celebration and the trees and the decorations and the Merry Christmas" and all this thing--and no JESUS!

BUT IT FINALLY DAWNED ON ME, and one day the Lord convicted me about that. It may not be too good an idea for us to waste money celebrating Christmas, but I've gotten to where I'm sorta glad to see the world celebrating it, even if they sort of forget what it's all about!

STILL IT'S CHRISTMAS, and they must be almost compelled at least once a year, to remember Jesus.--Even in Israel, where they weren't supposed to celebrate Christmas, we found that some people were celebrating anyhow, and there were a few Christmas lights in the windows and so on. Instead of saying "Merry Christmas" to each other, you dear Jews know what you do, you say "Happy Hanukah"--Festival of Lights!

THEY COULDN'T GET RID OF THE CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION, so they gave it another name, Happy Hanukah--the Festival of Lights. But what it's supposed to commemorate, I don't even remember! I'm sure of course, they probably just couldn't overcome the poor little Jewish kids' desire to see something celebrated in their house when they saw it in the neighbours' house, all this fun and festivity and Christmas lights and stuff.

SO THEY HAD TO COOK UP SOMETHING to satisfy their own kids, so they cooked up this Happy Hanukah thing, or the Festival of Lights. So even when we were in Israel, it still looked a little bit like Christmas. Well anyway, that's what I think about celebrations and Christmas and birthdays.

I'M NOT SURE THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT IS THE LORD'S SPIRIT! But I have gotten to where I'm glad to see the world celebrate it, do you get the point? I mean, if they don't think about Jesus any other time of year, that's one time of year they think about Jesus, TTL, amen?

AND I'VE BECOME A LITTLE MORE TOLERANT OF CHRISTMAS TREES. I don't believe any longer that there's some demon druid living inside that they're bowing down to every Christmas, and I still don't necessarily believe that December 25th is necessarily the exact day that Jesus was born, but so what!

AS LONG AS THE WORLD CELEBRATES JESUS, I think it's not a bad idea for them to celebrate if it they don't forget who it's about. And what difference does it make what day they celebrate, as long as it's Jesus they're celebrating and if it encourages them to remember Jesus once a year by giving each other presents and the kids presents and making the little children happy on Christmas and make them look forward to Christmas, if they don't forget to tell them what it's all about.

THAT'S ONE NICE THING ABOUT CATHOLIC COUNTRIES, they never let you forget what Christmas is about. They have the manger scene, the nativity scene, and they have those in the windows and they have those under the tree and they sing Christmas songs, and you're not allowed to forget that Christmas is about Jesus!

BUT CHRISTMAS IN THE UNITED STATES, I don't know about Western Europe, has gotten to where they have just about completely eliminated Jesus from Christmas. All it is is a tree and decorations and Santa Claus and presents and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Jingle Bells!

INSTEAD OF CHRISTMAS CAROLS at Christmas time on radio they play all these silly crazy songs about Christmas and Santa Claus and "Santa Claus is coming to town, better be good," blah, blah and "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas that is no more," and what-not-sad songs, some happy songs, but they have nothing to do with Jesus, and really nothing to do with Christmas!

IN FACT, IN THE SCHOOLS in Miami Beach, the Jews objected so much to any kind of celebration of Christmas they had to stop having Christmas trees, they had to stop having any mention of Christmas at all at Christmas time. Whereas schools used to celebrate Christmas, have a Christmas tree, sometimes gave each other presents.

And every time you say "Xmas," you're doing what [some people] want you to do: forget about Christ!

THE anti-Christs OF THE WORLD HAVE DONE THEIR BEST TO TAKE CHRIST OUT of Christmas. They wouldn't mind celebrating Christmas if you could just take Jesus out of it, and that's what they have accomplished. They have virtually accomplished that in the U.S.A., right?

DO YOU KNOW WHAT [SOME PEOPLE'S] FAVOURITE CURSE WORD IS?--Jesus Christ! I think there are probably more more sinners who pronounce the name of Jesus Christ every day than there are Christians! That must be one of the things the Lord meant by that: "He causes the wrath of man to praise Him!" (Ps.76:10) The very fact that they keep using His Name as a curse word is virtual recognition!

SO HOW DO YOU CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS? With Santa Claus, a red-nosed reindeer and jingle bells!--And presents for each other?--Or with Jesus and "Happy Birthday, dear Jesus!" and presents for Him?!

Copyright (c) 1998 by The Family International


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