Christmas is in big trouble. Businesses put up holiday trees, school kids can’t sing classic Christmas hymns, snowflakes are being pulled in favor of blank, red cups and nativity scenes are being attacked, stolen and defaced. Christmas is under attack!
Maybe it should be.
Can we just step back for a minute and admit that most of America loves something called Christmas more than it loves Jesus? Can we step back and admit that this thing we call Christmas looks almost nothing like Jesus?
Yeah, I’m judging. Got it? I am sitting here watching the annual rants on Facebook and the declarations of my rights to say “Merry Christmas” whenever and wherever I want and I’m judging it an embarrassment to the Jesus I follow in Scripture.
This is our focus? Really? We want to go to war over the creche on the public lawn showing kings and camels and a baby with hands outstretched foreshadowing the crucifixion to come 33 years later? The scene is probably pretty far from accurate both historically and culturally and isn’t even in line with the account given in the bible.
It’s really our goal to force people to say “Merry Christmas” or wish a “Merry Christmas” to someone whom we know doesn’t believe in Jesus? That’s what the good news of Jesus boils down to?
Get mad at me. Go ahead. But, I think this thing we call “Christmas” needs major retooling in the United States.
It’s not all bad. The giving piece is good. The wish for peace is good. The fact that our media makes an effort to highlight some sort of “spirit of the season” while being careful to steer clear of the Spirit of Christmas is almost kind of good. At least it’s in the right neighborhood.
My family absolutely loves celebrating Christmas. Yes, we go overboard with the rest of America and spend cash on lots of things we could do without. We love to decorate, wrap gifts and then unwrap gifts, one at a time, on Christmas morning. We give extravagantly because our God gave extravagantly.
The challenge for us is to recognize Immanuel, God with us, Jesus, in the river of Christmas chaos. Our worship of Christmas can sometimes displace our worship of Jesus. Our tradition over the years, our discipline to help us stay focused, has been to find someone to give to anonymously with the same budget we set aside to buy for our own children. We pray about it, we talk about it, and then we just send it. It helps us feel better connected than the annual gifts we send to Compassion International, Good Shepherd Food Bank and the Salvation army where we know our gifts are an important drop in the bucket. We’ve been on the receiving end of some large anonymous gifts that have left us with no one to praise but our God for His gifts. We pray for the same result for someone who needs a dose of Hope.
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2:14
The angel’s words in Luke 2:14 not only strike me, they shape me. Peace. Good will.
I’m sorry, my vigilant friends. I cannot join you in your posts on Facebook. I cannot join you in forcing Target, Starbucks or anyone else say or print “Merry Christmas.” I will thank the person who wishes me “Happy holidays” and I will return good will to them. I won’t type “amen” and forward your posts.
Instead, I will look at our simple nativity scene, with infant Jesus, arms swaddled warmly near his body, Mom, Dad and some awestruck shepherds nearby, and I will thank my God for this humble scene where He chose to enter humanity to walk with us.
And I will remember that it was this same baby who grew to show me how to live, how to love, and how to serve. I will remember that it was this child who grew to lay down his life to purchase mine. I will remember his straight forward, simple directive to love God with all my heart, soul and mind and to love my neighbor as myself.
Yes, I too am sad that America is moving toward rejecting the word “Christmas.” But I am more sad that we are moving further and further away from the Christ that it used to include at the center. He will always be the focus for us.
Rather than wage war to ensure that the name of Christ be forever attached to a societal season that is looking less and less like Him, perhaps it is time for those of us who claim to love the Christ of Christmas to simply focus our efforts on living like Him.
From what I read in this ancient book, it’s clearly not up to a coffee cup, decorations or vinyl store banners to tell people the Christmas story and the Good News of Jesus. That’s our job.