Christmas is a very special time of year for many people. It is full of precious memories and traditions that often hold a deep sense of meaning, ones that have often been celebrated for generations. The times are a changing - and with that so does our culture. With the demise of Christendom (empire of Christianity not to be confused with practice of Christianity), many folks celebrate and build traditions around secular ideas of the Season. For some these cultural changes can appear to be a threat to our favourite traditions and the way we see the world. For some, these changes can feel like an attack, that in some way something important to us is being lost. Unfortunately, there are those who will capitalize on this anxiety for their own gain and leverage it with what they call the “War on Christmas.”
Unfortunately, there are those who will capitalize on this anxiety for their own gain and leverage it with what they call the “War on Christmas.”
It is true; our nation is changing and with it many of the things we used to take for granted. Not because there is a deliberate plot afoot, rather there are increasingly more folks who don’t share our Christian faith or traditions. Yes, there are many new Canadians who bring with them a rich heritage and often a belief system and traditions that differ from ours. Also, we cannot ignore that there are more “born and raised” Canadians who do not share our Christian values either. We can hardly call this an act of aggression, and this does not make them an enemy. Even if they were, Jesus has some things to say about how we treat our enemies (see Matthew 5:43-48). When these things are framed as acts of aggression,and we draw battle lines, the fruit of the “War On Christmas” is fear, division and defensiveness – none of which is a “Fruit of the Spirit”!
For me, Christmas is another opportunity to demonstrate the Good News; the hope and promise that we have in Jesus, not in an aggressive, defensive posture but one of love. To boycott a coffee company that doesn't put Merry Christmas on their red cups, or those businesses that have Seasons Greeting in the window? Why on earth would we expect folks (and corporations) that may not be Christian to act as if they are? Is it reasonable to expect folks who don’t share our Christian faith to feel the same way about Jesus and His place in Christmas as we do? To do so is a special kind of holiday stupid!
When Christians ratchet up the anxiety and offence by suggesting "Merry Christmas" is somehow "bad manners " in public can make for some really anxious Christian people. Personally, I have never had anyone respond negatively to me wishing them a Merry Christmas, regardless of the context. Often I speak with folks of different religions and those with no religion at all, and they tell me they are not offended when wished a Merry Christmas. It doesn’t bother them at all unless you are defensive or self-righteous. Then, they just think you are odd and quickly forget all about you. So with hearts full of the joy, peace and the hope of Jesus, let us sincerely wish others a Merry Christmas!
I fully agree that Jesus is the reason for the season but let’s not get caught up in the fiction & manufactured hype of “The War on Christmas”. Rather than ranting Facebook posts, or the cascade of slick memes, boycotts or guerrilla styled “Merry Christmas” greetings to store clerks, let’s put some feet to keeping Christ in Christmas in some powerfully transformative ways.
In keeping Christ in Christmas we might consider befriending a new Canadian and inviting them to dinner, or we could support the local food bank, shelter or charity. Consider adopting a family or two for the holidays. Express sincere gratitude to people who have served us or reconcile with folks with whom we may have an issue. Be generous financially and relationally. Be generous with your employees or work extra hard for your employers. Thank the cop at the local Check Stop (and mean it). Volunteer to serve in some way, and be kind and gracious to everyone you meet – even while shopping in the busy shopping centers and restaurants.
By living the Christmas hope in real, everyday ways we are reflecting the “Light of the World” to folks who may not know the love and hope we have found. It is a beautiful opportunity to be living testimonies of the hope that lives within us!