Romans 14: 5-6 One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. (PS–I recommend you go read Chapter 14 in its entirety)
Let me start by saying…I celebrate Christmas. I enjoy celebrating Christmas. Furthermore I love Jesus and I am Christian.
But that being said…I have to say something about this so-called “War on Christmas”. Those who believe in the “war on Christmas” would have you believe that if you use the phrases “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” that somehow you do not love Jesus or are denying his existence. So try this perspective on for size…
My parents are Christians. My dad is a preacher. They’ve devoted large portions of their lives to ministry, sent their kids to Christian colleges, and led many people into a relationship with Jesus. But guess what they DON’T do…that’s right…they don’t celebrate Christmas.
I could rattle off scores of facts as to why but I’ll break it down simply. They don’t believe that December 25th is actually Jesus’ birthday. They believe that celebrating his death, burial, & resurrection is more important than anything else. And they do not like all the pagan symbols (Christmas trees, the giving of gifts, the colors green and red, holly, mistletoe, yule logs, etc.) that have been adopted by celebrants over the years. They don’t put up a tree. They don’t exchange gifts. My dad doesn’t preach a “Christmas sermon” one Sunday a year. And either of my parents would be happy to explain to you how silly it is that we’ve made “Joy to the World” a Christmas Carol when Issac Watts was writing it about the 2nd advent rather than the first.
And yet…try to wrap your brain around this one…they still love Jesus.
As I said…I do celebrate Christmas. I love to put up a tree and give gifts. I love to talk about the birth of Jesus and am grateful for one day a year that honors that incarnation of God as a baby who would become the man who I would one day call Messiah and friend. I’m not afraid to say Merry Christmas…nor do any of my friends of different faith practices and NO faith practices find me offensive when I talk about Christmas or the celebration of it.
However…I am under no misguided belief that these traditions are necessary for my belief in God, my relationship with Jesus, or my claim to Christian faith. Furthermore last year when I “skipped Christmas” because it was too difficult to participate in the celebration, I didn’t turn in my Christian card or have my baptismal certificate rescinded.
For the love of Oh Holy Night…calm down people!
Last week I asked a co-worker if she was going home for Christmas. She calmly and appropriately said “Well, I don’t celebrate Christmas but I’ll go home for a few days to celebrate Hanukkah with my family.” And you know what…neither of us burst into flames. I didn’t feel bad about my question and she didn’t feel bad for correcting me. Instead I was grateful that she shared her belief system with me because it now means I know more about her as we continue to build our friendship.
I have friends from all walks of life. And I love them. I love their sweet spirits, their senses of humor, and often I love their darling families. And whenever possible I want to enrich these relationships. If I can do that by not excluding them from my joy and well-wishes by saying the words “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings” then that is what I’m going to do. Whenever possible I’m even going to wish them a blessing for their beloved holidays including Diwali, Ramadan, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, etc. Because it doesn’t hurt me one bit…and more importantly it blesses them and makes them feel favored.
Some of you will say I’m “damaging my witness” and I’ll simply say that you don’t know what you are talking about. First of all that language “damaging my witness” is tricked out church language that doesn’t resonate with anyone but “us”…but that’s a blog for another day. Second of all, if you think my loving on my friends, right where they are in their lives, does damage then you don’t know the first thing about me, my tendency towards the relational, or my faith walk.
Finally I would say this…
Just like everything else…I think God’s got this covered. Let me remind you that God sent the Son for the “SO LOVED” of the world (John 3:16). That son…born in a manger sometime between January 1st and December 31st over 2000 years ago SO LOVED people that he touched the leper, spoke to the adulterous woman, called the tax collector, called his betrayer a friend, and offered forgiveness to another of his friends who denied him.
Oh…and he forgave me.
I’ll not worry today about the words Merry Christmas. Instead I think I’ll be merry and try to show Christ to the masses.
And just in case you need a laugh here’s what my favorite Jewish man besides Jesus & Moses had to say about it at http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-december-3-2012/the-war-on-christmas–friendly-fire-edition