It's beginning to happen every year - the decision to wish shoppers "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." And many Christians do their best to take Christ out of Christmas by stomping and whining and insisting that everyone keep Him in. It's really a lose-lose situation.
I mean, yes, it's totally asinine that corporations won't allow employees to wish customers a merry Christmas, when Christmas is the holiday that generates sales that keep their doors open the rest of the year. I also think the stupidest (is that a word? My dad uses it a lot, so...) thing I've ever heard of is to call those lit-up, decorated green things "Holiday Trees." They are Christmas trees. I wouldn't say to my Jewish friends, "Hey, that's a lovely Holiday Candle Holder you've got there." It's called a Menorah, 'cause that's what it is. It's called a Festivus Pole, 'cause that's what it is. It's called a Christmas Tree, 'cause that's what it is.
Having said that, I feel it's also very un-Christlike to demand that we be wished a Merry Christmas. I mean nothing says "I love Jesus" like demanding that a store employee go against their boss to wish you a Merry Christmas.
But that's not really the point of this post. My friend Cristin sent me a story that speaks about these issues, but actually points to a deeper matter that I want to address. The story is about new ads going up on DC buses that say, "Why believe in god? Just be good for goodness' sake." (A similar ad has been running in Britain that reads "There probably is no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life." I would say that "probably" is not a good word to use here. I mean, wouldn't you want to be absolutely sure about that?)
We are studying Romans in Sunday school and few weeks ago, our teacher (who is also a professor at the local seminary) was speaking about creation and God and he used the phrase "things you can't not know." He was referring to creation as being made by God. I mean, you can call it what you want, but really, you can't not know that God made it all. Even my three-year old knows. But even deeper that that, you can't not know that God is. You can deny Him, but that doesn't make Him less true.
In the first chapter of Romans, Paul tells us, "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse" (vv.18-20, italics mine).
But here's the catch for us - while God as Creator is plain to man without ever being told, Jesus as Savior is not. So it's not my job to convince someone of the truth of creation. But it is my job, my command from the Man Himself, to speak the truth of Jesus, to live the truth of Jesus, and to be the truth of Jesus. And what better time than during Christmas?
How about this season we stop expecting to be catered to? Let's serve, instead of expecting to be served. Time and again, scripture refers to God as "slow to anger and abounding in love." There's no reason we can't be the same. Let's not get grouchy when the lines are long, and let's not do that thing where we mumble under our breath about the service or the employees.
I would love for us to put Christ back in Christmas. But forcing your town to have a public Nativity scene isn't the way to do it. I don't think a plastic, light-up Baby Jesus is the "light of the world" Matthew was talking about. No, that light is you. And it's me.
I do wish you a Merry Christmas, and I pray that you share the "merriness" that is within you to all you meet this holiday season.