A lot of people have asked me what I make of this whole alleged anti-Christmas movement in our society. You know, the retail employees being forbidden to say “Merry Christmas,” the president sending out holiday (means "holy day" ... hmm?) cards rather than Christmas cards, rampant uninhibited heretical denial of the doctrine of the virgin birth, and stuff like that. I understand that some people are very upset by the whole thing, and have made it their personal crusade to spread Christmas cheer with all the vim and vigor they can muster. Cool.
(Aside: There’s nothing like someone wishing you “Merry Christmas” with a chip on their shoulder. There’s no feeling quite like the feeling of knowing that the well-wisher on the other side of the greeting has a militant agenda – “You WILL have a Merry Christmas, so there, you wanna make something of it?”)
Everybody needs something about which to bitch. That’s number seven in my list of axioms for ministry. It means that people are much happier when they have something tangible they can complain about. Ironically, being mad makes them happy. The current hubbub about the de-Christmasification of our culture is the latest on that list. It gives people a good, healthy sense of moral outrage, and a definitive place they can direct it. Sadly, it appears to be a reversal of a formerly en vogue complaint that is now woefully out of fashion.
See, we used to say, “Isn’t it terrible how all the stores have commercialized Christmas? It cheapens and demeans the birth of Jesus to see the holy event used to make a profit.” But now we seem to be saying, “Isn’t it terrible how all the stores have de-emphasized Christmas? It dishonors the Christ child to avoid using his birth to make money, while respecting the beliefs of non-Christian customers.” (Because, you know, respecting other people’s beliefs is not at all a Christian thing – we are all about the imposition of what we think all over your heathen self, and making a lot of money in the process.) And here’s another interesting thing: I saw an add in today’s paper for a “Christmas Party” that was being thrown at a strip club. Whoa! Theologize on that one for a while! You wanna talk about commercialization?
Indignantly, the overwhelmingly huge Christian majority who has a place of worship on every corner of every city and town across the continent, seasonally appropriate music to listen to on the radio since before Thanksgiving, and holiday-correct decorations to purchase in any given store for weeks now (not to mention the strip club parties), is trying to claim we are being oppressed. To paraphrase my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, “O, us of little faith!”
In Matthew 8, the big faith of a Roman Centurion facilitates Jesus’s healing of his servant, whereas his disciples cower in fear as a storm threatens their little boat. This prompts J.C.’s “little faith” rebuke. Seems that today’s disciples are engaged in a similar response to the anti-Christmas storm threat we perceive. “Storm’s a-coming! Jesus, bail us out here!” To which Jesus shakes his head in frustration, sighs a deep sigh, and watches the Charlie Brown Christmas special on T.V., muttering about his disappointing disciples all the while.
So as for me, I will not lament the fact that stores seem to be removing Jesus from their marketing campaigns or the president is removing Jesus from the cards he will be sending to people of many different faiths. I happen to think the church should be insisting on just such a removal (not to mention the strip club parties) and calling for the return of Christmas to the venue of the body of Christ. I long for the good old days when Christians didn’t get so easily mixed up between their local church and their local Wal-Mart.
Ho, Ho, Ho,
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