The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 1 Timothy 1:15
Do you have a favorite non-Christian Christmas song? For my wife, Pam, that song would be "White Christmas." She gets downright misty when she hears Bing warble about how "treetops glisten" and "children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow."
England's "Lapland New Forest" does not evoke the same sort of memories.
Promoted as a place "where dreams really do come true," many people have felt the place was a rip off and their $37 admission charge wasted.
What's the problem? Here's just a sampling: visitors waited more than four hours to see the New Forest's version of Santa and then were charged an extra $15 if parents wanted to take a picture of their little one, who was not allowed to sit on Santa's lap. Other difficulties include a poorly painted nativity scene -- only approachable across a muddy field; and the "magical tunnel of light" was merely a walkway leading through a few trees with some Christmas decorations.
Ivan Hancock, of Dorset County Council's trading standards department, said: "I've never known anything spark so many complaints in my 20 years of working with three different authorities. We have had 1,300 people contact us."
Christmas can be disappointing, can't it?
This is especially so, if you are looking for it in the wrong places.
But the real Christmas can't be stolen by a Grinch, and it can't be corrupted by Lapland New Forest.
That's because the real Christmas -- the Christmas featuring the Son of God and not Santa -- is found in a Bethlehem manger. There, in the person of a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, the real hopes and dreams of humankind find their focus come together.
Only when we see Jesus in the manger, on the cross, and freed from His open tomb, can we be given the Savior who was born to save us from our sins.
And nobody who has that Christmas -- certainly nobody I've ever met -- can say they've been ripped off by the Christ. How could they? Their Christmas comes by grace.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, I am saddened by all those who wish to capitalize on Your coming and sacrifice. In spite of all the glitz and glitter, may my eyes be focused on You who alone are God's gracious Good News of great Joy. In Your Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries