Just read an article of an atheist who doesn't want anything overtly associated with Christianity out in public display (especially Christmas stuff). Well, over the years it appears to me that many people in culture are exclaiming that they are "offended" by portrayals of Christian messages and/or religious beliefs in public space. There have been crosses taken down from memorials, programs changed at schools because of prayers being said, etc. Well, it is Christmas time (aka "Holiday Season"). Now, I'm not really worried about the so called, "war" on Christmas. Some people are…not me! Nor am I worried about how the many people in the culture want to throw out Christian imagery from the public square. I read a great blog post this week where a friend of mine says some things that are true…the Christian message is embedded in our culture and "Christendom" (for better or for worse) has had its way in public discourse for decades (even centuries). That's his point…you might debate his conclusions, but his thesis is correct.
I have come to some conclusions..at least temporarily! I reserve the right to change my mind. I know the downside of the relativism of culture and I see the tragedy of an amoral and unethical reality that has no sense of absolute accountability. I get that and I wish it were different…but it is not. So, I've given some thought to this issue and after having innumerable conversations with people in our community at large, people who sometimes do or don't have any faith basis in their lives, I think it is time to stop whatever "war" people are perceiving. Truthfully, those who want to take Christian images out of public view are fine with me. That's their right in a free country just as it is my right to belief and follow whom I choose. In some way, I think it is time to say, "FINE!" " Let's take down what offends you! (if it is in the realm of the public-those who use displays of faith on their own property have the right to do so)." Trust me, I don't say this with any animosity because, in fact, it might simply be best. Christ followers have enjoyed the "head of the table" place in culture for many years…times have and are continuing to change.
To have cities and towns and businesses displaying holiday stuff is neither important nor critical to maintaining what I beleive. So taking down PUBLICLY sponsored displays of Christmas doesn't threaten what I believe…it doesn't cause my devotion to Kingdom living to waver one moment. Actually, it it were to happen, the contrast could be advantagious over time. The bible is clear that Kingdom people are to expect and anticipate clashes in worldviews. There is a "prince of the power of the air" (odd but powerful verse in Ephesians) that is a stark contrast to living and following Jesus.
So, here's a few ideas – why don't we just drop Christmas from the overtly public…let Jesus followers celebrate it like the Jewish people do with Hanukkah. Let those followers decorate their lawns, places of worship or whatever they want in their spheres of living and influence. You see, I don't really care if the "public square/culture" were to cancel the Xmas season. You see, I think the only people who would really suffer by that would not be people of faith…it would be the retailers and others who make $$ off Christmas. They would hit the ceiling. It actually feels better to me if the culture gets off the Christmas bandwagon. I know it's tradition in the USA. Yet, if people in culture want it to be taken off the public radar because they don't "get it", then let's do! Let's cancel the Santa thing, the gift giving and all the trappings. Let those of us who do trust in the Christchild to do our own thing…which we can do with or without the culture's permission. Jesus followers don't need the culture to affirm what we believe. We will give gifts because of the gift we have been given through Jesus. We will celebrate because the incarnation was a universal game-changer. We will sacrifice and proclaim, "peace and good will toward humanity" because of the dedication of Christ-followers throughout history (one of which is the "patron saint" of Christmas, St. Nicholas).
But, like I said, there are a lot of people who depend on Christmas economically and socially…they like the time off and the rest if the trappings. If they really want to pull Christmas out of pop culture, like I said, fine! We can actually proclaim the power and meaning of Christmas better if it wasn't mixed up in cultural nonsense. If Christmas is so contentious, let's drop the contentiousness…stop the Holiday season (ironically, those in the culture who want to drop Christmas don't really understand that the only reason we have a Holiday season is specifically because of Christmas).
You know, think about it…follow me here – If you think about it, what would be the reason to have a "holiday season" if it wasn't for the Christian tradition. Pull Christmas out of the holidays and see what it "means" over time. Winter Solstice? As most of us know, the Holidays without Christmas would be hollow and mean nothing…zip…nada! Then the Holidays would simply be a time for the adoration of consumerism and narcissism…another reason to party. Sadly, it has become a lot like that already. Have you noticed the movement of Jesus followers who are attemtping to re-vision Christmas into a simpler, holier, mellower and less consumeristically driven time? It's there and growing…why? Because there are people who really do know the reason for the season. For those who don't, that's OK. I don't want to force anything on anyone..God didn't force me into His love. Christmas should be invitational…it should invite us to kneel at the foot of the manger bed not because the manger is lite and in front of city hall but because WE chose to follow "a star" that led us to that which is Holy and oozing with love.
So, let's give it up…let the holidays be what they are and let's not force anything on anybody. Christmas then can continue to be what it is for people of faith. No one, then, has to get all hot and bothered because they see three wise men in front of the mall or hear of a school doing the "Charlie Brown's Christmas Play." I'm tired of hearing about those battles when the REAL battles for who God is and what it means to follow Jesus and be His disciple is fought more on a daily basis, relationship to relationship, conversation to conversation. As long as we are "fighting" over trees, carols, creches, or even the speaking of the words, "Merry Christmas", we are waging the wrong war….or at least, a misguided one!
Oh well…enough of that! On to preparing for Christmas!