It’s Christmas time! It’s the time of year when Christians celebrate the birth of our Lord. But it’s also the time of year Christians bemoan the fact that Christ is being “taken out of Christmas.” This is the time when many Christians feel they have been robbed of the sacredness of the season because slogans like “Happy Holidays” seem to outnumber the wishes for a “Merry Christmas.” During this season, Christians are forced to face the fact that our secular society is tired of playing nice and going to church for Christmas.
Far from wanting to complain about that, I would like to see this as an opportunity. I may be in the minority, but I find the wishes of “Happy Holidays” to be refreshing. Please don’t get me wrong; I love Christmas – it’s my favorite time of the year. But the separation of Christmas from the Holidays is some medicine I think the Church needs to swallow.
Christianity has been the dominant religious system in America since her founding. Some of that is good and some of that is bad. The good is fairly obvious – we have enjoyed a cultural situation that has made it very easy for people to believe in Christ and follow him. Of course, this in itself can be bad since the Bible exalts those who are rejected, poor, hungry, and persecuted – stuff the American church rarely is. But the other bad part about the American/Christian union is that it has allowed us to confuse what parts of our lives are secular and what parts of our lives are religious. Christianity and secular American society are deeply divided. The Bible is clear that the world will always hate God but for some reason we often expect the world to embrace us – especially at Christmas time.
We Christians can be arrogant. We want the world to acknowledge the reason for the season even though it didn’t in Jesus’ day. There will come a day when every knee will bow and every mouth confess the reign of Christ our King, but don’t get that confused with whether or not Hallmark makes explicitly Christian greeting cards or Old Navy uses the word Christmas to sell jeans.
This Christmas we have a great opportunity; our secular society has given us a wonderful gift. They have given Christmas back to the Christians! We don’t have to fight them for it anymore! Maybe now we can enjoy the secular side of our festivities (Santa and the Holidays) while also having a deeply religious experience as we set aside this time for our Lord (Christmas). There is something very attractive to me in the thought of God’s people celebrating Christmas as the world around us celebrates the Holidays.
Here are some practical things we can do to make this a truly spiritual season…
- Instead of groaning that you can’t find a book about Jesus for your preschooler, get a Bible and a nativity set and let your child act out the words of Luke 2 with the figurines.
- Instead of searching high and low for a “Christmas” card, write a Christmas letter explaining what Christ has been doing in your life and family this year.
- Don’t get mad if you see the word “Xmas” – the letter X is the oldest abbreviation for the word Christ (whether the person using it knows it or not).
- Finally, raise a glass of eggnog and make a toast to the Christ who is foolishness to the rest of the world but God’s power to those who believe!