Archive for December 2013
For years, I’ve railed against others railing against the “War on Christmas.”
It’s time I give up that fight. There is, truly, a war against Christmas. Problem is, however, as the horror movie maxim would say: The killer’s been inside the house the whole time! No, Virginia, Liberalism, Muslims, Jews and Political Correctness aren’t killing Christmas, neither are atheists, agnostics or any other convenient straw man you wish to set up.
Christians have simply done a horrible job with Christmas, and we’ve effectively lost the right to complain about it.
Full disclosure: I’m a Christian…lifelong Lutheran. Before taking up sports radio and then sportswriting, I trained to be a minister. I grew up in parochial schools, went to a dormitory preparatory high school and eventually onto pre-seminary training. I’ve gone door-to-door to spread the gospel in Saginaw, Detroit, New York City, the Atlanta Suburbs and now in my home in Palm Coast, FL. My wife is a kindergarten teacher at a Lutheran school and I serve on the executive council of that school and the church it’s attached to.
I’m no Johnny-come-lately to this debate.
I’ve also been a lifelong fan of Christmas. Now, let me explain what that means. I’m not a huge Christmas movie fan. I don’t drown out anyone who comes near my home with Christmas Carols starting in mid-October. I don’t put up huge multimedia light displays. I don’t max out my credit cards to buy my two boys anything their hearts desire. I don’t tell my boys tales about jolly men with red reindeer, nor do I set up elaborate overnight hijinks with a mischievous elf.
You know what I really like about Christmas—something I’ve loved for a long time? I love the extra opportunities the season provides for me to remember and worship my Savior who decided to humbly lower himself from his throne in Heaven and be born to a human woman in low estate. I marvel at the Word made flesh (John 1) and the old cherished stories that seem new to me every year (Luke 2). I love the second, often unsung, versus of songs like Silent Night and Joy to the World that remind us that this is the world’s savior who is born and that he reigns!
To many (heck, maybe even my Christian friends), that makes me a scrooge. I don’t like the hubbub around the holiday, because I don’t like how it distracts me from the focus I cherish so dearly. This isn’t to say that it is only I that “celebrate correctly” or that any of those things that typically go with the holiday season are inherently wrong to partake in. I’m not saying that at all.
What I am saying, is that the secularization and commercialization of Christmas has done far more damage for far more centuries to “the reason for the season” than anyone bloviating about “The War on Christmas” would like to admit. They don’t want to admit it, because they’re probably part of it.
Moreover, we—as Christians (and I’m wholeheartedly including myself in this statement)—do a terrible job with Christmas when we forget that it is only the beginning. Christmas, along with the preceding season of Advent, mark the beginning of the Church year. Far too many act like the Will Ferrell character Ricky Bobby from Talladega Nights who refuses to pray without invoking “the tiny baby Jesus” because that’s how he likes to remember him. The church year, with holidays like Epiphany, Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Easter, Ascension, etc, wasn’t set up to provide two convenient holidays to go to church so one can take the rest of the year off.
No, one is supposed to carry the joy of Christmas into the marvel of Epiphany—that this son of God is also true man. Onward, marking his teachings and his life as we eventually pause to take note of our own sins on the road to Calvary and Christ’s death and resurrection.
If there is a “War on Christmas,” the war against the rest of the church year was lost to us long ago. We never even took up arms to fight.
Again, this isn’t to moralize or tell you how “wrong” you are. It is (in part) to remind all of us that the “War on Christmas” commentators probably don’t have in mind the furtherance of Christ’s kingdom. More importantly, it is because my fervent prayer is that Christ’s love shines on each and every one of you this holiday season, and that you find joy in remembering his birth—for all the right reasons.