And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
Sentimentalism—a sentimentalism Christmas is a Christmas without conflict. Sin brought conflict and violence into the world, and so in a very real sense, Christians are enemies to the way of death. But note this: death is our enemy. We cannot rid the world of conflict without conflict. But it must be God-ordained kind of conflict, as Simeon foresaw. The pseudo-problem that people point to is the mere existence of conflict, never mind who is right or wrong.
Moralism—a moralistic Christmas is a Christmas without sin. People are changed (if they need to be changed) the way Scrooge is transformed in a Christmas Carol. They are changed by simply changing their minds, and giving somebody a goose or something equally festive. This kind of Pelagianism is not what we are commemorating. But Simeon’s prophecy takes real sin into account. The pseudo-problem that is raised here is the problem of “negativity.” But when Christ was born, our world was cold and dark.
Spiritualism—a spiritualistic Christmas is a Christmas without matter. But when Simeon Blesses Joseph and Mary, he is doing so because they are there in the Temple with a baby in their arms. The Lord was taken up in Simeon’s arms (v.28). Jesus was a baby, a material gift. We do not celebrate Christmas by trying to backpedal away from the world of material things. The pseudo-problem here is the warning against “materialism,” as though matter were somehow inherently a problem. Idolatry is a problem, but that can occur with thoughts and virtual reality as easily as with fudge and presents.
So if we tell the Christmas story carefully, taking note of all the things that the writers of the scriptural accounts include, we find ourselves telling the entire story of salvation. The story includes the world, and everything in it. He came to make His blessings flow, far as the curse is found.