The buzz on talk radio and on cable TV describes a War on Christmas. It's
true. There is a War on Christmas. But it's not the war you'll hear the
windbag pundits talk about.
That false crisis centers on whether sales circulars and store banners
proclaim "Happy Holidays," or "Merry Christmas," and why store clerks salute
you with "Season's Greetings!" That's a war? Oh, come on. Get real. It's not
even a skirmish.
The real War on Christmas is not whether "Merry Christmas" gets edged out of
the crass commercial marketplace, those houses of material worship where
people spend way too much money on stuff they really don't need.
The real War on Christmas is the growing reality in the culture that the
shopping and the decorations and the overconsumption is
actually the major part
of the celebration of Christmas.
Why get upset about "Christmas" being dropped from the commercial
marketplace unless you think there is some intrinsic connection between the
miracle of God's incarnation and maxing out your credit cards at the
The real War on Christmas is that for our culture the meaning of
Christmas has become little more than a cheesy sales gimmick.
Christians have a part in this real War on Christmas. It's to remind the
world that the miracle of Christmas is that God loves us so much, God came
down to earth to save us, to dwell with us, to teach us. And God took the
form of an ordinary human child born to an ordinary human family under dire
circumstances and in the midst of violence.
Matthew's Christmas story gives us terrorism in the form of Herod, a Saddam
Hussein of his time and place. Insecure of his power, Herod is threatened by
the arrival of an infant king, and he orders the slaughter of male infants
of his own people, in his own land.
Jesus and his parents flee for their lives! They become refugees on the run
from their own government, much like the refugees in the Darfur region of
the Sudan today, and like the people of Kosovo did 10 years ago. (Here's a
mind-stretching exercise: Imagine that if Jesus arrived today, he might be
born to a refugee family in Darfur!)
Here's the miracle: The birth of Jesus, the arrival of God to save us, came
in the midst of intense human cruelty, poverty and sinfulness. This was
God's choice, through which God sent us a powerful message: God signaled, in
effect, "I am with you, all of you, in the worst of the worst in order that
you may have the best of the best. I am with you forever so that you may be
with me forever."
This is the meaning of Christmas worth fighting for. Let the shopkeepers
call their silly winter sales what they wish. (In fact, why not keep Christ
OUT of them.) Christians proclaim Emmanuel -- God is with us -- not only
with their lips and shopping habits, but in their lives and hearts and
For inspiration on how to fight this War on Christmas, check out two new
resources below: The
Rev. Dana Reardon's column
about embodying a Christmas presence greater
than Santa Claus, and Alternatives for Simple Living's
treasury of Christmas celebrations
-Rob Blezard, editor and webmaster
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