“A Christmas celebrated in greed is an abomination.”

Mark Karapetyan 

 

An American Christmas!

 

 

by Mark Karapetyan

 

Late on a dark, cold, rainy night, my head is resting on the headrest of my car. There must be an accident somewhere because I’m stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic and the highway has turned into a big parking lot. I hope I can make my apologetics class on time tonight. The wiper blades are running at full speed.

Oh, come on, move! It’s been twenty minutes already. All I see through my foggy, wet windshield is long lines of red taillights in front of me. Wait a second, are those red taillights? I can’t see clearly. I see some lights, but I’m not sure. Is that a little hut far ahead? It must be. No, I think it’s a barn or something. I see lights. I see ligh…

It is sometime in the ancient past.  

There’s deafening silence in Heaven as the angels and heavenly hosts are anxiously waiting!

The Creator of the universe looks down on earth from His throne and sees His creation in dire need of help. He acknowledges that the sinful nature of humans will eventually result in their demise. He knows this, for He created them freely and recognizes each one of them by name.

He acknowledges that man cannot save himself because he is mortal; from dust he was made and to dust he shall return.

His love for humanity is greater than the infinite cosmos. He does not wish for any of them to eternally perish. Therefore, He readies to implement a glorious plan drawn before the dawn of time.       

All eyes in Heaven are now on the Master of the Universe. He closes His eyes, takes a deep breath, and smiles as tiny tear drops run down His face…

The angels are struck in awe!

Never before have they seen the Creator sob. Never before have they witnessed Him shed tears. The angels bow down to Him as they realize they are about to take part in a cosmic master plan orchestrated by the Grand Weaver Himself. They have faith in Him, so they do not ask any questions.

Heaven is on edge!

Everything is in order, everything is ready. Suddenly then, in an instant, loud trumpets blow in every corner of Heaven declaring the departure of the King.

Amazingly, all attention immediately shifts to the insignificant, small city of Bethlehem Ephrathah, in Israel. The city of David, as it is also called, witnesses the grandest event in all of history. God Himself arrives on earth and manifests in the flesh to dwell with humans!

Late at night, in a cold, dark stable, surrounded by hay, cattle, and manure, a young Jewish virgin named Mariam miraculously gives birth to the Savior of humanity.

Yosef, the man whom she is married to, is there out of love for his woman. At the same time, however, episodes of doubts are infuriating him since he wasn’t the one who impregnated her. The baby isn’t his!

He wanted to start a family with her, but it wasn’t supposed to be this way.

“This is wrong!” he murmurs.

He clutches his fist in anger and shame. How badly he wishes to confront those in town who have accused his beloved of adultery and betrayal. Part of him wants to leave and never return, but his devotion toward her is immense. Confusion clouds his thinking, and at his weakest moment, Satan whispers in his ear:

“Run, Yosef…leave! She has disgraced you…”

The young husband gnashes his teeth in anger, sheds a tear or two, and then stands up to dash out of that small manger to disappear forever. Mariam interrupts by asking him to hold the newborn baby gently while she rests her tired legs and aching body. She wraps her Son in swaddling clothes and hands Him over to her man.

At first, resentful Yosef hesitates, but then he obliges…

His feelings for her overshadows his rage. He pulls the child close to his chest and sits near the small fire he had built earlier.

The baby stops crying as the heat from the flames warms up His little limbs. He stares at Yosef as if they had met before. How ironic!

Yosef stares back at the infant’s dark eyes and sighs: “So, it is you, the Son of the Most High?…” he asks.

Baby Jesus blinks!

Rivers of emotions run through Yosef. All of a sudden, he remembers the dream he had a while back when the angel of God foretold to him this very specific and unusual miracle.

For a moment, he can’t believe that he is actually holding the Son of God in his hands: “How is this even possible?” he wonders!

“How can the promised Messiah, who is supposed to restore the Jewish nation and save all of humanity, arrive on the scene in such a pathetic manner?” he reflects.

“Where are the majestic white horses, the army of angels, and the heavenly celebrations?” he thinks to himself.

His thoughts are pulling him in all directions. He is baffled; he is irritated; he is in love. Alas, he vowed to be with Mariam to the end. Moreover, his faith in God is strong. He wants to believe that his dream was divine.                  

Many hours have now passed; it is late at night. Other than a few stray dogs barking outside, the entire town is silent. It’s perfectly noiseless in the manger. Even the cattle are bundled up next to each other snoozing. Yosef glances over at Mariam and finds her sound asleep.  

The smell of the burning wood fills the surroundings as the flames slowly flicker away…

Yosef is exhausted. He wishes to rest his eyes for a moment, but the slightest movement makes the baby cry again. He sings Him an ancient Aramaic song and cradles Him in hopes of putting Him to sleep…

So many more hours pass on…

It is early in the morning. There’s nothing to eat or drink. Joseph worries that his tired darling will be hungry when she wakes up shortly. Nevertheless, he feels thankful that at least they had a place to stay for the night away from the chilling temperatures of Bethlehem.

Then, the manger comes alive again and the cattle are ready to go out to graze.

Yosef, Yosef…bring forth my Son so I can feed Him,” Mariam demands.

Yosef has fallen asleep by the fire, but Mariam is up now wanting to care for her dear Child. The sounds of the baby’s cries fill the area as the young mother quickly prepares to breast-feed the infant.

Suddenly, strangers appear out of nowhere and politely introduce themselves as shepherds and wise men from the East. They recount their experiences with the angel of the Lord who appeared to them earlier and informed them that in the City of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, is born.

Yosef listens attentively, takes a deep sigh, and weeps. He perceives this as a confirmation from the Lord above that the newborn Child, indeed, is a legitimate Son given miraculously to Mariam. He hugs the shepherds and cheerfully glees: “Unto us a Child is born, unto us, a Son is given!”

Mariam takes everything the strangers said into her heart, stretches her sore back, and remembers her own personal encounter with the Angel Gabriel months prior, when he appeared to her one early morning and informed her that she would bare a Son:

“Do not be afraid, Mariam, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son and shall call His name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.  And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end. The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”

“Mariam, Mariam, Mariam…” Yosef nudges: “The guests wish to see the Child.”

Young Mariam apologizes for her Deja-vu, holds the baby up, removes pieces of hay off his little feet, and turns toward the Shepherds.

WHAT A SCENE!!!

The majesty of God is before the Shepherds. They are staring at the image of the invisible God!

Never before have they seen or felt the presence of the Almighty like they do now!

These men are witnessing the most glorious day in all of history. They are looking straight at the King of the universe Himself who left His majestic throne in Heaven and ascended down to earth.

The all-knowing, all-powerful Creator of everything humbles Himself, takes on the form of a servant, and is now physically laying in a manger right before them.

The wise men can’t believe their eyes! How incredible is this? How unimaginable is this?

They are so overwhelmed with what they see that they instantly kneel down and worship the young King.            

After admiring and adoring baby Jesus, they open their treasures and present Him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They do so, and gladly depart to their own country from another way as they were commanded by the angel of the Lord.

Mariam and Yosef, on the other hand, are in love with their first born. Mariam holds her Son closer to her chest, looks at His eyes, kisses His soft face, and prays to God to watch over them on their trip to Egypt later. 

Out of the many nights Mariam has lived through, this night is exceptional. On this night, she gave birth to the Creator of everything. The Savior of the world has come to earth. What a glorious night!

The angels in Heaven are rejoicing. The universe is in awe!

It is Christmas in Bethlehem!!!

 

Knock! Knock! Knock!

“License and registration. Sir! Roll down your window now. License and registration!”

“Oh, no!” (I quickly roll down my window).

Officer: “Sir, you fell asleep behind the wheel. Are you alright?”

“Yes, officer. I’m just a little tired, I guess. I’ve had a long day.”

Officer: “It’s a good thing all the cars are stopped, and traffic is heavy. Otherwise, someone could have gotten badly hurt. License and registration please.”

“Here you go, sir.”

Officer: “Where are you headed?”

“I have to teach an apologetics class.”

Officer: “Hold tight, I’ll be right back!”

 

“What have I done? I can’t believe I fell asleep in my car while driving. I think the soft music I’m listening to and the hot air blowing from the vents put me to sleep.

Ah! I see the police officer in my rearview mirror get back in his cruiser to run a check on me. I hope he won’t write me a ticket!

(Four minutes later)

Come on officer, what’s taking you so long? Hurry, I have a class to attend.

(Seven minutes later)

Hmmm, this is interesting…the rotating, flashing lights on top of the officer’s car are blinding. They remind me of Christmas lights, colorful and bright.

Those lights are brighttttttttt. Thos lights r brigh. Tho li r bri…”

It is sometime in December, the “Christmas season” in America!

Shopping malls and stores are buzzing with greedy customers who are eager to buy gifts and presents. Holiday trees and lights are everywhere, decorating homes, businesses, streets, and other venues. For a nation that’s heading more and more toward Paganism, that’s impressive!

Christian radio stations across the country are playing non-offensive holiday carols that do not dare mention the name of Jesus. TV stations are advertising massive discounts to boost sales. Retailers are open past midnight to reach maximum profits. Seasonal Christians are packing churches that are having two or three services a day, something that churches should do daily. Families and friends are back together once again to eat like beluga whales and outdo each other with superficial and insignificant gifts.

In this typical Christian home, the host has invited the guests over for Christmas Eve. Families and friends have arrived days ago for a week-long December break. Many are still recuperating from the punches and kicks they endured when they went shopping on Black Friday. Nonetheless, they are glad to be back. 

It is finally Christmas Eve. Everyone in the house is getting ready to sit at the table and eat dinner. The house looks fabulous! It smells wonderful! 

Why wouldn’t it, when it was just cleaned inside and out a few weeks ago for Thanksgiving? Tonight, however, it is fancier than a presidential suite at the Taj Mahal. Outside appearances always reign supreme for these Christians.

The hideous, colorful lights and the flashy ornaments all over make the house look like a modern Disco. Everyone pays a nice complement, but most are disingenuous.      

The giant Christmas tree sits lit up right at the large window for everyone on the outside to see. If only Christians were also willing to display at the same windows their Christian characters for everyone to see…

The nicely wrapped and tagged presents are already underneath the glaring tree. It’s a gift-giving marathon!

“Santa loves everyone,” is the old adage, and everyone believes it.  Therefore, some will get fourteen presents while others will get twenty-seven. Nevertheless, no one, including the adults, will wake up the next morning without at least three presents given to them. Everyone will be happy and delighted…just like God commanded in the Bible, somewhere in the second book of Greed.

Now it’s time to eat.

A few quick words of Grace, and the diners dive in like starving vultures to devour all the healthy foods: mashed potatoes, ham wrapped in bacon, pot roast, and creamed spinach. But no worries, everyone has made a New Year’s resolution to join a fitness center or a gym on January 3rd to get back in shape.    

Everybody is full. Some are already drunk. Much like corrupt, liberal politicians, these drunkard Christians excuse their behavior by conveniently citing verses they do not believe in, from Bibles they do not own: “Jesus drank wine at a party too. It’s in the Bible somewhere!”

What else is expected from such apathetic, uninformed, fake believers?

The children, on the other hand, didn’t eat much. They are running around wreaking havoc in the house. Their goal is to open their presents and open them now! Their laser guided attention is steered toward the Christmas tree that has hundreds of presents underneath it.

“Bless their hearts, they are not spoiled, they are just children,” the parents parrot.  

Daddy and Mommy have promised that Santa will bring them a lot of presents if they get good grades and behave well. A “demand list” is given to the children two weeks before Christmas where they can jot down on a piece of paper anything their hearts desire. Such a concept, the parents assume, is biblical. “God wants us to assure the happiness of our children,” they tragically believe. According to these parents, the greatest commandment in the Bible is to love your children with all of your heart, soul, strength, and mind. Not God!

It is now ten past eleven at night. An entire evening has gone by. Various political, scientific, sports, and even some theological topics have been discussed and analyzed by the expert hosts and guests, but not once has Jesus’ name been mentioned so far. Not once has anyone recounted the good news of the birth of the Messiah to the unbelieving guests, or even explained the true meaning of Christmas to the spoiled, self-centered children. Not once has anyone retold what God did for humanity two thousand years ago to save them from eternal damnation. The focus is not on ancient Bethlehem, but on that giant tree at the window.

It is time to open the presents.

Everyone is anxiously waiting, sitting united before that almighty giving tree. They are about to receive. They are about to collect. And so the names of the recipients are called one after another. The presents are mind-blowing. Some people are going through a nervous breakdown, jumping up and down like lunatics while opening their gifts. Others are crying uncontrollably. All kinds of presents are being unwrapped – clothing, women’s make-up, jewelry, tools, colognes and perfumes.

No one gives or receives a Bible!  

As expected, a few arrogant children are already complaining, demanding bigger, better, and newer things.    

It is now midnight!

Many have fallen asleep by the fireplace. Some are upstairs passed out from over drinking. The unsatisfied, spoon-fed, ill-mannered children have succumbed to their disastrous night and crashed on the carpet.

The cat alone is awake, licking the leftover apple cinnamon pie. 

Other than a few stray dogs barking outside, the entire town is silent. It is perfectly noiseless in the house. The smell of the burning wood fills the surroundings as the flames slowly flicker away…

It is Christmas in America…

 

Knock! Knock! Knock!

 

 

 

 

“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”

Roy L. Smith

 

 

 

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day

Their old, familiar carols play,

And wild and sweet the words repeat

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow