November 23, 2008

The Real War on Christmas

Somewhere in my early to mid-adolescence, I came to dislike Christmas. I don't begrudge other people's love of it (especially my wife who would start listening to Christmas music the first chilly day of September), and I'm certainly glad to attend a holiday party. It all has to do with the commercialization of one of the pinnacle points of the Christian tradition.

I promise I am not a Grinch or a Scrooge about Christmas. I think the Nativity of our Lord is tied for first as the most important day of the Christian year. The Resurrection is the other. You can't have one without the other.

What has really gotten me lately is the faux controversy around people, mostly in the retail world, saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." In all honesty, I don't care. Say thanks for keeping your company in the black, tell me to have a nice day, tell me go jump in a river. I really don't have a dog in the "fight" over why retailers don't want their employees to say, "Merry Christmas." And if the sales person is not a practicing Christian, then they have all the more right to not wish a Christan blessing upon someone they don't know.

There is some fear that by not wishing people "Merry Christmas" that we are degrading a Christian observance and therefore Christianity.


Some people think that because a city council won't allow a nativity scene or a Christmas tree, there is some attack on the Christian faith.


First of all, I'm of the belief that a civil government shouldn't allow a display of one belief without a display for all the relevant religions. Second of all, the use of the evergreen tree was stolen by Christians from pagans. So why are we getting bent out of shape over a pagan symbol. By I digress...

Here is my main thing. As a Christian, I find it appalling that Christmas is promoted so early. The CVS near my house had Christmas decorations out on November 1st. (Thanksgiving, anyone?) And it is even more egregious that our economy has come to rely on this season to balance their books. Those who think that America has turned its back on God need to look no further than the gross commercialization of Christmas.

Advent is a season of the church year that we prepare for and are reminded to make room in our hearts and lives for God's coming to the world in the flesh, and to re-prepare for the ministry of Christ Jesus. This is a momentous occasion. It's huge. The birth of Christ is the cornerstone of our faith, and we belittle it by putting out garland and candy canes and all sorts of CRAP that has nothing to do with Jesus or God.

Christmas is not about trees or gifts. It's about the Word made flesh, dwelling in our midst, calling us to a closer relationship with God. This is not something to trivialize with shopping or trees or songs about snowmen.

As we approach the holy season of Advent, I pray that we will be able to prepare our hearts and minds on the incarnation of God into the world. I hope that all who claim the name of Jesus as their Savior will focus first on the gift God has given to the world and much later on what gifts they will give other people.

No comments: