Vision and Inspiration
By Brice Marsh
Festival of Sacred Christmas Music
and the Annual "Keep Christmas Alive" Concert
"The festival is much more than a concert ... it is a concept!"
Simply put, we are "Reclaiming Christmas, Proclaiming the birth of Christ, and Proving that old-fashioned traditional sacred Christmas music can be joyful, festive and fun … for the entire family!"
The Inspiration for the Annual Festival of Sacred Christmas Music
The inspiration for the first Festival of Sacred Christmas Music in 2005 was to capture the Spirit of Christmas that Dr. Pat Odom and I experienced when we and our wives attended a number of Christmas programs in Branson, Missouri in December of 2004. Those programs were staged in a secular venue, yet we felt God's presence and could see His handiwork in all the programs we attended. Even the restaurants and the hotel where we stayed all boldly proclaimed "Merry Christmas," "Jesus is the Reason for the Season", "Keep Christ in Christmas", and other proclamations of the birth of Christ … to our happy amazement.
You may be thinking … “Oh, those folks were simply pandering and patronizing to a sympathetic crowd of Christians!” Maybe so … but if so, why did the businesses in Branson feel it was politically correct and safe to do so when many businesses in our hometown of Huntsville apparently were afraid to mention the name of Christ? It seems that many Huntsville businesses were fearful of offending “someone” but not fearful of offending Christians! I choose to believe that God had somehow enlightened the business people in Branson to realize it would be "good" to glorify God and to exalt the name of Christ at Christmas. That sparked the idea and we believe God gave us a challenge to follow their lead; and gave us the inspiration to take a stand for Christ at Christmas!
The Vision for the Festival of Sacred Christmas Music
As we drove back from Branson, we prayed and brainstormed for a vision of a way that we could bring some of the passion and the Christmas spirit we felt in Branson to Alabama … to “Keep Christmas Alive!” and to keep Christ in Christmas!
It was our vision and our hearts’ desire to rekindle the Christmas spirit that seems to have flickered and faded in recent years across America. We applaud the many Christmas programs, cantatas, musical events, and holiday activities that are produced in churches each year; but sadly, it seems businesses and organizations are becoming more and more “politically correct” so they no longer observe Christmas as a religious holiday for fear they may “offend someone”.
In 2005, the committee to Keep Christmas Alive (KCA) was formed; and the first “Keep Christmas Alive” event was staged at the Von Braun Concert Hall in Huntsville, Alabama. Since then, it has become an annual event, and we have been blessed and entertained by a combined total of more than 40 different world-class performing groups and more than 350 individual singers and performers! KCA would be impossible to produce without the support of a large number of volunteers and stage crew assistants. For many, it has already become an annual family affair to attend “KCA”.
KCA is much more than a concert ... it’s a concept!
We challenge people to leave the festival with a renewed determination to reclaim Christmas. Here’s the concept simply stated: Christmas is a very special holiday when Christians have chosen to celebrate the birth of Christ. However, for years we have stood by quietly as Christmas has been commercialized and has become the largest source of profit for most retail businesses. In fact, according to one estimate, if Christmas was eliminated altogether, approximately 50% of the retail stores would be forced to go out of business. Yet, these very establishments increasingly are refusing to display any materials containing the name of Christ (or “Christmas”) in their stores for fear they may offend someone. What sheer hypocrisy!
Yet, by our silence we have given our consent to their action. Many of us have become intimidated. We are even afraid to say “Merry Christmas” right here in America! It’s time for us to take a stand and reclaim Christmas! We can no longer allow the liberal and evil influences of the world to rob us of the joy of Christmas!
More about KCA:
KCA is intended to be unpretentious and simple ... like "Jesus Loves Me" and "Silent Night" simple. No laser lights. No fireworks. No special effects. But we DO have world class musical talent that will hold your attention and bless you thoroughly. KCA is a non-profit organization; any proceeds after expenses are given to charities.
See “Featured Groups” for the lineup of our outstanding talent this year.
Here’s a simple way to reclaim Christmas: It's free, it's safe, and it will be rewarding and stimulating. I challenge each person who attends the festival to be the first to say "Merry Christmas!" to ten people each day between the day they read this and Christmas Day, then thousands will hear "Merry Christmas!" that might not have heard it otherwise; and a number of them will be encouraged to repeat it to still other people. The checkout clerks at many retail stores have been instructed to refrain from saying “Merry Christmas” unless “the customer says it first”. Well, if you are the customer, be the first to say “Merry Christmas”, and start saying it every time you encounter a checkout clerk or other people while shopping.
Here's another challenge for all of us: Many of our churches have Christmas concerts and cantatas and then we leave the church feeling all warm and bubbly … from inside the safe sanctuary with our friends and buddies .... but all too often we become deaf mutes the next day at work and at the mall or at the grocery store. In other words, by our silence, we have allowed the secular world to dictate our practices and to intimidate us concerning how we express our Christmas greetings. Please have the courage to speak up whenever, wherever you hear anyone say "Happy Holidays" or "Seasons Greetings". You should let them know that as Christians, we consider those words to be offensive. Please remind them that we prefer they show the proper respect for the One for whom the official national holiday is named and to refer to it as "Merry Christmas" please!
We have been silent too long. Maybe if enough people hear us, we can empower even more people to have the courage to speak up.
Finally, we hope the dynamic of this program will spill over the walls of the concert hall and infect surrounding communities with the spirit of KCA; and we hope to share this concept with other parts of the country. Please encourage others to “copy” our idea and start similar programs in their communities.
Thank you for your prayers and your support.
Keep Christmas Alive!
In His Service,
Founder and Advisor
The Annual Festival of Sacred Christmas Music
The Committee to Keep Christmas Alive