Monday, November 30, 2015

Christmas Wars

In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab with his officers and all Israel with him; they ravaged the Ammonites, and besieged Rabbah.
2 Samuel 11:1a

It is certainly not spring, but recent events caused this passage to pop into my head.  It seems this is the time of year when people go out to battle over anything that even remotely looks anti-Christmas.

People demand that store clerks greet customers with, “Merry Christmas,” instead of, “Happy Holidays,” under the false assumption that how store clerks greet customers has anything to do with Christmas.  Those people seem to forget that the buying and selling of merchandise during a holy season was one of the reasons Jesus overturned tables and drove out merchants.

We are beginning to hear cries of, “Keep Christ in Christmas.”  Two things always come to mind when I hear this: 1) if you want to keep Christ in Christmas, does that mean you don't have to pay attention to him the rest of the year?; and 2) this slogan totally ignores and devalues people of other faiths, or no faith, as we insist that everyone must acquiesce to the demands of our religion.

Another popular slogan is, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.”  That is not actually true, as the celebration of Jesus' birth was assimilated into an already-existing winter festival commonly called Yuletide (the term Yule log is familiar to many).  And when, exactly, is this “season?”  not all that old, but I can remember the days when no store decorated for Christmas until after Thanksgiving.  But now . . . I saw stores beginning their Christmas preparations before Halloween.  I'm beginning to think the writers of the Charlie Brown TV specials had it right:  When Chuck and the gang go shopping for Easter eggs, they are greeted by Christmas decorations and a banner proclaiming, “Only 246 Days Until Xmas.”

This sentiment also shows a lack of knowledge in that the vast majority of people who make that proclamation remove trees and decorations, getting back to “normal,” within a day or two after Christmas Day, totally ignoring the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas.

A few weeks ago my Facebook feed was inundated with some ridiculous claptrap about Starbucks succumbing to satanic atheists out to destroy Christmas because – horror of horrors – their new holiday cups didn't include a Christmas decoration.  We have an overabundance of hungry people, refugees clamoring for protection, an unwillingness by many companies to pay a living wage, and red cups from Starbucks is what Christians are willing to go to battle over?

Everyone from Amazon to Walmart is gearing up for Christmas.  TV and radio ads are reminding us to shop early, put things on lay-away, or to get that “perfect gift for that perfect someone.”  If you haven't noticed, the only ones declaring a war on Christmas are those who are supposed to be honoring an unwed couple displaced from their home by government decree, wandering through the streets of a small town, being refused shelter at every turn, and who eventually give birth to a boy, and laying him in a feeding trough.

Which brings me to Advent.

The Season of Advent begins on November 29 this year.  It is a time of hopeful anticipation.  It is a time of expectant waiting.  It is a time when we look back and forward to the birth of Christ, as well as to his coming again in glory.  It is a time for us to slow down and prepare.

Advent is all about preparation.  So take the time to prepare for Christmas, but don't busy yourself in preparing for a battle that will never happen.  Pay attention to your traditions and don't get sucked into thinking Christmas is what the advertisers tell you it is.  Christmas will come, even though the breathlessness of the perpetually outraged will tell you it's in danger of not happening.  Christmas will come, because babies have a way of doing that.

Pay attention to Advent before you get carried away by Christmas.  Light a candle in the dark.  And if you want to go to battle, pray for the grace to cast away the works of darkness, for the strength to don the armor of light, and the patience to live in hopeful anticipation of the coming of our Redeemer.


Lady Anne | 4:41 PM, December 02, 2015  

Starbucks. I never did get the connection between snowflakes and Jesus. You want a snowflake on your cup? Here's a white crayon. Yeesh. And the Twelve days of Christmas begins on the 25th and runs until January 6. By December 26th, the stores are already gearing up for Valentine's Day. Quit showing, folks. Quit shoving.

First time comments will be moderated.