It just occurred to me that with the advent of Christmas, something has been conspicuously missing.
This year there are no angry warning blasts about the conspiratorial War on Christmas! Barely a peep. Every year we hear rants and laments about how our godless culture is removing any religious semblance of Christmas out of the mainstream, to the point that we can’t even mention the word “Christmas” anymore. We’re appalled at retail chains for their “holiday” sales and their “Happy Holidays” banners. We’ve been urged to boycott these stores. Schools and public places are taking down their nativity scenes and silencing Christmas songs, replacing them with paltry “Winter Holidays” political correctness. Christ has been Xed out with “Merry Xmas”. Santa has pushed Jesus aside, too.Heck, Starbucks doesn’t even mention holidays or snowflakes on their coffee cups! Poor Jesus.
What is the world coming to??
But this year, all those familiar gloom and doom refrains have been MIA. Why?
I’ve got a theory: there are weightier issues to fret about. The Middle East is edging towards the brink of explosion with Syria being the fuse. We’re on the other side of the most negative, bitterly divisive Presidential election we’ve ever faced in our lifetimes, leaving many people angry and scared. The EU is close to collapse. More of the world is opting for a nativist, nationalistic populism. Our economy is nowhere near stable. We’ve battled over marriage and bathrooms and sitting out the National Anthem.
When it comes down do it, we are so easily distractable. We talk, post, and tweet about whatever storm, real or fabricated, that happens to be raging in the news and social media. Meanwhile yesterday’s storm is long forgotten. (Ask someone now if the dress is blue or gold and watch how many confused responses you get!) Today, all it takes is a few prominent voices to broadcast a storm warning, i.e. “There’s a War on Christmas,” to get the masses debating the issue.
But this year other storms have taken center stage in our public debate, and no one has taken up the War on Christmas cause.
All in all, our distracted silence demonstrates what a silly issue the War on Christmas has been, and how ridiculously shrill the demonstrators have sounded.
Look, here are some basic facts:
- I can politely wish someone a Merry Christmas and not worry about being condemned, arrested, or assaulted. If I’m extra polite, I can avoid doing that with folks I know don’t observe Christmas. (After all, who has ever come to Jesus after being plastered with “Merry Christmas” greetings?)
- I can set up my Christmas tree and nativity scene, put lights on my house, and even set up Christmas stuff on my lawn without fear of the government charging me for religious expression.
- I can freely go to church and celebrate Advent and Christ’s birth and Epiphany, knowing that my government protects my right to worship as I choose.
- If it so offends me, I can choose not patronize stores or restaurants that refuse to acknowledge the word “Christmas”.
- I can write any number of blog posts, columns, editorials and books, and organize demonstrations to end any War on Christmas. However, I cannot stop anyone from calling me an idiot. That’s their right, too.
Frankly, I’m relieved there’s no War on Christmas storm warning this year. That has given many of us tremendous freedom to simply tell and live the good news of Jesus’ birth without having to compete for bandwidth with the doomsdayers. Many of my fellow Christians undervalue the compelling message of Emmanuel, God with us in Jesus Christ, especially when it’s shared humbly, passionately, and in a way that connects with our lives as they are:
God is faithful to keep his promises. God loves us and comes to us just as we are. God was birthed right in the middle of our broken messes to bring us love, grace, forgiveness, and a renewed relationship with him. The greatest gift we’ll ever know is the friend, Savior, and Lord we can have in Jesus. The birth of Jesus is more powerful than any one religion because anyone, anywhere, of any race, culture, or belief can discover him.
Isn’t that awesome? Why rant about a so-called War on Christmas when we’ve got a living treasure that has captivated human hearts for nearly 2000 years?
So… next year, can we make it two years in a row that we don’t bemoan the death of Christmas? Please? Instead, let’s learn and relearn how to tell the glad tidings of good news for a world longing for any kind of good news.