It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or perhaps it’s not? It seems that with each passing year the rhetoric of the no Merry Christmas crowd ratchets up just a little more.
I must admit that part of me wants to chalk this up to the growing anti-Christian movement by groups like the ACLU; however, is that fair to those that may genuinely feel offended by Christmas.
It’s strange for me to imagine anyone actually being offended by Christmas. It does not bother me in the least if I am wished a “Happy Kwanzaa” or “Happy Hanukkah.” It must be Christ that is the source of their objections, but is Christmas still a Christian holiday?
The Christmas Story – How Authentic is It?
There is a real danger when we remove the text of the Bible from it’s original setting and culture. In the more than 2,000 years since Christ’s birth, I wonder if He would recognize it with all of the editing we have done.
We have added camels, stables, innkeepers, medieval type inns, donkeys, a non-crying Jesus, and even a little drummer boy. We condensed all of this down to one night, and arbitrarily decided December 25th was the very night He was born (probably to replace a pagan festival).
In all likelihood, Christ was born in the fall since the shepherds were still in their fields tending their flocks. Joseph and Mary may have been in Bethlehem for days or even weeks before the birth of Christ. Luke does not tell us.
Christ was placed in a manger (a feeding trough) which makes a pretty good temporary cradle. The inn is most likely the upper room of the ancestral home. It was common for people to bring their livestock in at night to protect against the elements and theft, so a manger would not be out of place. Of course, they could have just brought it in too. I also wonder, given Mary’s situation, how welcome she would have been – could this have been a slight?
Tradition, Tradition! Tradition!
Sorry, whenever I think of the word tradition I hear Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof singing “Tradition!” None of this information is particularly new, but we seem to continue celebrating that first Christmas the same way. Tradition has won out over authenticity.
When you wish someone “Merry Christmas” what does that really mean? Is it a jubilant reaction to the birth of the Messiah? If so, well that would certainly be offensive to Jews who do not believe the Messiah has come yet.
I doubt that this is what many people think about when they utter the words, even most Christians. Don’t get me wrong. I believe most Christians hold the Christmas story as a dear part of Christmas, but I think it has become just that – a part, instead of the meaning. How often do we really think of His birth during this season?
My home is filled with crosses. There’s one in just about any direction you look. When Christmas rolls around though, the number of crosses pales when compared to the snow people, gingerbread kids, candy canes, and ornaments that invade my house.
We have the traditional nativity scene (guilty), but even that is dwarfed by the sprawling Christmas village (it might even have a tiny nativity now that I think of it). I think there are now 23 huge Rubbermaid bins filled with just indoor decor.
For me, I say “Merry Christmas” out of tradition. If I really thought about it, then I would be joining the angel’s chorus announcing His birth and the good tidings that it brought. How could you not? Honestly though, I’m just not thinking that deep when I say it.
For all of my complaining about the commercialization of Christmas, I am one of those guilty of contributing to it. I hate gift shopping because I just hate to shop for others. My rants about how Christmas has been hi-jacked is more of a cover for my selfishness (although I do believe my rants have lots of merit).
When it comes down to it, I really like the Christmas that we celebrate now. The traditions are comforting, and have taken on their own meanings. It’s still a very magical time of the year. In my business, I send out “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings” cards. This covers all of the holidays without offending anyone.
All of my business ventures are based from home, but I would still decorate for Christmas if I had a traditional office space. I would put up a Christmas tree, a nativity, and I would wish people a “Merry Christmas.”
I Heard Him Exclaim as He Drove Out of Sight
If someone wishes me a “Happy Holidays,” I return the same. Any other greeting will likely just receive a smile and a “Thank You” in return. As far as Christmas being a Christian holiday, I think it is what you make of it. It probably always has been.
As for me and my house, I pledge to make Christ more than just a part of Christmas this year. I will impart the true Christmas story to my son. I will explain to him what’s been added, and why we continue some traditions even if inaccurate.
I will tell him that it’s not the day of Christ’s birthday that is important, but that God fulfilled His promise and provided a way for us to be reconciled with Him even when we did not deserve it. Christ would give us the greatest gift of all.
Unlike our house at Christmas, where the sparkle of Christmas decor obscures the crosses (wow talk about symbolism) – Christ will not be lost in Christmas. Whether I wish you a “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Holidays,” or “Seasons Greetings” know that I am also saying “God loves YOU and sent His Son to redeem YOU.”