If you’re a regular reader of my page, then you know I have deep concerns about the priorities of Christians in today’s modern world. In my opinion, we’re a people that are consistently barking up the wrong tree. We constantly miss actual moments for growth and encountering the Spirit while we knock about screaming about things that often don’t matter one little bit.
Nowhere is this illustrated more than in this “War on Christmas” garbage. Hey man, I work in retail, I have for the better part of 20 years. Generally I’d rather fling myself off of a bridge than to be talking about anything Christmas on November 8th. But this crap has started off already this year as many of my fellow Christians are locked, loaded, and ready to be offended.
There is not much that makes me more embarrassed to be associated with the name “Christian” than this “War on Christmas.” To me, anyone with half an ounce of observational prowess can see that this whole thing is just a way for a particular brand of right wing extremists (nominally associating themselves with Jesus) to push their own agenda. Apparently some people don’t get it though.
The hoopla got off to a grand start this week when some Christians got ticked off at…..Starbucks. That’s right, Starbucks, the Devil’s own coffee shop! Generally as November kicks off, Starbucks changes from their usual white cup to a red cup for the Holidays that usually features some kind of vaguely Christmas scene. I did a quick Google image search and saw a lot of snowmen, some dogs on a sled, some Christmas trees with decorations, and other totally non-offensive bits o’ holiday cheer. The only things that I saw that could even be remotely considered as religious was one with a star and one with a dove.
So it’s not like Starbucks, a secular business that markets it’s products to people of many different faiths and backgrounds, generally puts the Nativity or “Happy Birthday Jesus” on it’s Christmas cups. This year however, the cups are just going to be red and green. There’s probably tens of Christians in the US that are generally outraged by this, but dang, are they loud! I mean, red and green aren’t are associated with Christmas! How dare they!
Wait, what? Yes they are!
Anyway, some brilliant Christian strategists have come up with an idea of how they’re really gonna stick it to Starbucks, about how they’re gonna make the company pay! Alright here’s the plan: get out your notebooks and Bibles and write this down.
STEP 1: Go to your local Starbucks.
STEP 2: Buy a venti Peppermint mocha no whip, nonfat, soy latte or something.
STEP 3: When the “barista” asks for your name so they can write it on your cup, tell them your name is “MERRY CHRISTMAS.” Then they’ll have to write CHRISTmas on your cup! Get it?
STEP 4: The power of Christ, now flowing through your toffee nut macchiato, will cause the demon, commonly known by the name “X-mas”, to flee from the coffee shop. All employees will join you in the sinner’s prayer and promise to attend your Christmas Eve Candlelight service.
Ok ok, so STEP 4 may or may not be a part of the official plan. But the stupidity is clear, right? You’re going to go “punish” a company (even they’ve really done nothing to you) by patronizing their business and purchasing their product. Oh, well done! What a fine strategy you have there! Meanwhile, everyone else in the place will look at you like you’re some kind of moron and you’ll hand other people yet another negative stereotype of Christians. Nice job.
But hey, why not? I mean you’ll be purchasing plenty over Christmas, right? For many of you, just mere hours after gorging yourself on a meal as way to “give thanks” for what you have, will head to the stores to kick off the the absolute orgy of greed and debt that is Black Friday and the Christmas shopping season. You’ll cut in line, you’ll fight somebody over the last super cheap LCD TV or tablet, and you’ll scream at some poor clerk who has been up since 4:30 AM because they ran out of the sale item that you just have to have. Maybe you’ll even trample someone to death as you rush into a store to get your “bargains.”
What a joke.
Christmas hasn’t been about Christ in years. Sure some of us will show up to church every Sunday, light Advent candles at home, drop some loose change in the Salvation Army buckets, and head out to church on Christmas Eve or go to Midnight Mass. For most Christians, that’s the extent of their observation.
Look, I could write some post about the pagan origins of Christmas and how the church co-opted these celebrations. I could write a post about how Jesus wasn’t even born on December 25th, yadda yadda yadda. That’s the not the point. Christmas is supposed to be a time when we contemplate the mystery of the Incarnation. If the idea of Christ leaving the power of the King of the Universe behind in order to become a frail human being doesn’t absolutely blow your mind every Christmas season, then that might be the real issue. As Christian artist Michael Card puts it in his song The Final Word: “Eternity stepped into Time, so we could understand.”
And what is it that we’re supposed to understand? It’s the depth of God’s love for us. It’s the desire he has to be close to us and for to be close to him. It’s the opportunity we have to walk in his light.
It has nothing to do with whether we say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.” It has nothing to do with whether or not the local town hall can display a nativity scene. It has nothing to do with whether a secular company slaps a picture of a Christmas tree on their coffee cup or not. In fact Paul states in Romans 12:18: “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone” (NLT). He doesn’t say “invent reasons to be offended” or “build walls between you and others.”
Christmas has everything to do with contemplating the mystery of faith and examining ourselves, not others. It has everything to do with caring for the poor. It has everything to do with sharing God’s love with everyone. It has everything to do with “Peace on Earth and goodwill to all.” It has everything to do with, as does all Christianity, trying to become more and more like Jesus.
Becoming more and more like Jesus should preclude us from inventing some “War on Christmas.” He should inspire us to find ways to connect with each other, not rip each other to shreds for not following all of the same traditions. He should inspire us to serve each sacrificially, and not to steep ourselves in the greed and desire for more material gain that often fuels the holiday season.
Is Jesus the “reason for the season?” Maybe for you he might be. For others he’s not, and that’s fine. However, perhaps if you’re one who honestly believes he is, you ought to try acting like him instead of trying to force your own traditions and beliefs down the throats of others. Just sayin.
So that’s all for now about Christmas. One day this week I’ll post about some of my own issues that come up this time of year, and of course I’ll have more to say as we enter the actual holiday season. I had to get this off my chest though. I urge all of us to stay out of this “War on Christmas” and to just try to be kind to each other.