Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ramblings of an overloaded mind... "one of those"

*dusts off keyboard and blog*
*lays out her tangent...*

I received "one of those" emails today, the "Keep Christ in Christmas" ones. The ones that tell us not to get into the politics of being politically correct (but all the while still meddling in politics to keep things politically "incorrect"...) The ones that say "I will say Merry Christmas this season, will you stand with me?" I got one of those today. That's where my rambling begins...

I was at the grocery store this morning, and just before I said "Merry Christmas" to a sweet old lady who gave me her cart in the parking lot, I stopped. And I thought about it. Today is day 5 of Hanukkah - what if she's Jewish? Would she say to me "keep YWHW in Hanukkah"? No... she'd probably let it roll right off her back, reply Merry Christmas - even though it isn't her holiday - and go on with her day.

Because that's actually what most people who aren't "keeping Christ in Christmas" do. 

It's not that I have a problem with saying Merry Christmas - I say it! I guess my hang up is on the whole "keeping Christ in Christmas" debate that always surfaces at this time of year, as though He can actually be taken out of it. I mean, if your celebration is for Christ, then isn't He still there regardless of what others do? Isn't where YOU put Him at this time of year what matters?

To be honest, I'm not offended by someone saying Happy Holidays to me. I get the feeling from other Christians that I'm supposed to be, but I'm just not. The word holiday actually means HOLY day. :) How awesome is that?! For me, as a celebrator of Jesus, I think saying Happy Holidays is actually a really beautiful thing to say to someone.

And then there's the acknowledgement that Christ wasn't even born on December 25th... WE put Him there and claimed this time of year as our own. I get the history behind all of that, and I have no qualms with it. If I did, I wouldn't observe Christmas! But honestly, how can we be so offended by people celebrating winter solstice (a celebration that predates Christmas) and telling us happy holidays? Or by people who celebrate Hanukkah? (Which also has been held during this time of year since long before Christmas ever even existed - just ask Jesus, you know, since He observed it!) Or even Kwanzaa... I could go more into that one, because at least with Kwanzaa the founder originally shunned Christianity and Christmas (he later retracted that) but, really, if we're being honest - all he did was take the time of year and make it his own... sounds familiar, like what Christians did with Christmas. ;)

I used to be "one of those" Christians. The type who was offended if a city put up a holiday tree instead of a Christmas tree, or if a city refused a nativity on their city hall lawns. I used to be the type of Christian who only saw the world through MY eyes... my very scaled eyes. Some would say that is the way I should be, that I should be offended. Some would say I'm now lukewarm. The thing is, nobody is taking away Jesus from me by calling their tree a holiday tree, or by not displaying a nativity. Nobody has taken Christ out of Christmas by greeting me in saying "Happy Holidays" - and Jesus is still in my Christmas, even if I say "Happy Holidays". I've never felt more on fire for Christ, and that fire for Him rages within me, commanding that I love ALL of His people. The ones who say Merry Christmas. The ones who say Happy Holidays.

Even the ones who say nothing at all, because they hate this time of year.

You ever wonder what hurts them so deeply that they can't even feel the teeniest joy at all the beauty of this season? What haunts them... what keeps them from loving...

I do. I wonder if it's ever possibly from the condemnation that we as Christians constantly throw at anything that doesn't fit our western-Christian norm of what this time of year should look like. I've met people so turned off to God because of the way His people treat others. Sometimes I can't say that I blame them.

If we really want to keep Christ in Christmas, shouldn't we just be more Christ-like? Breaking bread with those of different backgrounds and beliefs, showing them His light and His love. Being an example of who He is, who He was when He was here - not stomping on everything that isn't tagged as ours like we own the world.

We own nothing.
We are not even our own. We are His. (I would have it no other way!)
This is His world.
We know that our calling, our commission, in this world is to reach out to the world.
I'm not convinced that our stubborn determination to cling to two words actually fulfill our calling, our commission.

And I'm not saying to Christians that they shouldn't stand firm. Go on, say MERRY CHRISTMAS! Embrace it. It's beautiful! But if someone says Happy Holidays to you, don't take it as an attack. They can't take Jesus out of your Christmas. They aren't hijacking the holiday. They aren't waging war on Christmas. Really. I promise. :)