“Keep Christ in Christmas!”
“Jesus is the reason for the season!”
“It’s OK to say Merry Christmas!”
I don’t disagree with any of these statements. However, as a PR rep for Jesus, I cringe whenever I see them printed on a sign somewhere. I know we all lament the commercialization of a sacred day; I know that it’s frustrating to see something so meaningful reduced to plastic snowmen and frozen fruitcakes. That said, it’s not worth getting all offended by a ‘season’s greetings’ card, or a ‘winter holiday celebration’ at your kids’ school or your workplace. Here’s why we should stop demanding “our holiday” back:
1. ’Season’s greetings,” refers to that broad expanse of time from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. Muliple holidays=holiday season. It’s nothing against Jesus, really.
2. Also, Christians are not the only people of faith who celebrate a high holy day around the winter solstice. Christianity is a global faith with a regrettable lack of global awareness. “Happy Holidays” is a simple means of acknowledging that some of our neighbors–even some of our friends and relatives–are also in the midst of living their faith. And let’s face it: the “this is mine” attitude surrounding December 25 feels less like Christmas cheer, and more like Black Friday hoarding. Just sayin…
3. “Xmas” is not a dirty word. In fact, “X” is the Greek letter, Chi–which, in the olden days, was often used as a literary symbol for Christ. So, there you go.
4. Jesus never went around saying “Merry Me-Smas.” While I’m sure he’d appreciate all the to-do around his birthday, he was a pretty humble guy. I think he’d blush and say, “Oh, you shouldn’t have!” And you know…when i hear ‘keep Christ in Christmas,” what it sounds like to me is keeping for ourselves. Not the best celebration of God’s love incarnate.
5. Do you really want the public school system to be responsible for your child’s faith formation? No? i didn’t think so. However…when we insist that public schools–funded by state and local tax dollars–speak the language of faith, it is kind of the same thing. (I have similar boundary issues with posting of 10 Commandments and school prayer…post for another day!) Let’s just say, while i think many public school teachers model wonderful values and moral behavior, and many are model Christians, I’d much rather my kids learn to read and do math at school, and get their language of faith from my family and the church of my choosing.
6. We might often feel that the secularization of our favorite holiday has deprived it of all meaning. But on the contrary, Christmas is the time when many who would qualify themselves as ‘non-believers,’ feel a stirring of the spirit that leads them seeking. If we are truly disciples of Jesus, we should celebrate any element of the season that urges people toward the holy. It may start with the mall or the Hallmark channel, but it often lands them in church. I’ll take it.
7. Speaking of shopping–if you are bothered by all the secular expressions posted around malls and big box stores this season, might i gently suggest that you spend less of your Christmas season at the freakin mall? If you don’t like the signage, spend more time serving the poor, going to worship, getting out in nature, and spending time with the people you love. I’m pretty sure the birthday boy would be all for it.
8. Life is too short to worry so much about what everyone else is saying and doing. Apply this to other areas of life and civilized culture, as well.
9. When you get right down to it, the best way to “keep Christ in Christmas” is to model Christlike behavior. Jesus was for feeding people. Jesus was for healing and compassion. Jesus was for getting a bunch of loud, messy, mismatched people around a table and having a big dinner. Not a moment of his life did he spend trying to get his name up on a sign.
10. And speaking of signs…this just does not make for attractive seasonal decor. Martha would not be pleased: http://www.thathouseinmilford.com/apps/photos/photo?photoid=143841377
Any way you shake it, simple is best; and joy comes in much smaller packages than we’ve come to expect.
Rev. Erin Wathen is the Senior Pastor of Foothills Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Phoenix, AZ. Visit her blog at www.irreverin.com.