Evidently, Christmas is on its way out.
Evidently, everyone is celebrating it wrong. People are celebrating too early, or not at all, or not long enough. People aren’t giving enough, or if they’re giving it’s not for the right reasons. Society has replaced O Come All Ye Faithful with Jingle Bells, Merry Christmas has now become Happy Holidays, and – wait for it – this year’s holiday cup at Starbucks isn’t Christmassy enough.
Do you hear what I hear?
The bah-humbugs and grumblings are reminiscent of Dr. Seuss’ Grinch who stands on a mountaintop overlooking Whoville and laments, “All the noise, noise, NOISE!”
It’s a noise accompanied with a lot of finger pointing on how Christmas is or isn’t being celebrated.
During this time of year we are especially mindful of Christ’s entrance into the world. Rather than sending an army and forcing change, God sent an infant who was innocent and non-threatening, welcoming and not judging. People came to see the infant who simply was. Later, when Christ began his ministry, again people came; they didn’t come to be accused, but to be enlightened. The rod of discipline of the Old Testament became the Good Shepherd’s staff of the New Testament, a staff which is not used as a means of discipline, but as a way to corral and guide.
And as Disciples of Christ, we are also called to go out into the world to witness – not to accuse or judge – but to be the shining star that casts light into shadows.
So instead of fretting on how Christmas is or isn’t being celebrated, consider the following:
- Jesus said he was the light of the world, but he also said we are the light of the world. Be the Christmas light that points people to Christ. Amazingly, a lot of the time you won’t even have to say anything.
- Instead of getting annoyed with those “season’s greetings” or “happy holidays”, remember that the season refers to that broad expanse of time in which there are multiple holidays (holy days) which are being celebrated, including Christmas, Hanukah, and even Kwanza. Don’t think of those “season’s greetings” as an insult; rather, see it as an acknowledgement that some of our neighbors (even our brothers and sisters) may be living and practicing a faith which is different from our own.
- Don’t be offended by that X in Christmas. The “X” is actually indicating the Greek letter “Chi”, which is short for the Greek word meaning “Christ”. So “Xmas” and “Christmas” are equivalent in every way except their lettering. Most people who use Xmas don’t have evil intentions; even so, for that person who maliciously tries to “take Christ out of Christmas” the joke is on him because in the very act of replacing Christ with an X, he’s actually putting Him in!
- Embrace all that holiday music – it’s refreshing to shop at the mall when, for this one time of year, Jingle Bell Rock is playing instead of Beyoncé or Miley Cyrus.
- The best way to “keep Christ in Christmas” is to model Christ-like behavior. A mean word or a judgmental look does harm to the very faith we are trying to share. As Francis de Sales clearly stated: “You can save more souls with a teaspoon of honey than a barrel of vinegar.”
- It may seem as if the secularization of Christmas has been deprived of all meaning; however, Christmas is the one time of year when many – even non-believers! – feel a stirring of the spirit. If we are truly Disciples of Christ, we should celebrate any aspect of the season that nudges them toward the holy. For some it might start with a trip to the mall or watching Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel, but who knows? One day it might lead them to the doors of a church.
- Finally, remember this: commercialism has absolutely nothing to do with our personal relationship with Christ. Commercialism does not influence how we set up our homes to reflect Advent and Christmas. Commercialism has absolutely nothing to do with how we come to Church, worship, and celebrate our faith.So, instead of fretting how Christmas is or isn’t being celebrated, Be the Shining Star! And maybe we’ll discover how we are all more alike than we are different; maybe we'll begin to realize that all that noise – the complaints about Santa, the Christmas wrappings, tags, and bows, and even those red Starbucks cups – despite all those things, Christmas isn’t going anywhere. It’s here to stay.After all, in the end how did the Grinch steal Christmas?He didn’t. He couldn’t.It came just the same.