I wonder if as Christians we have taken Jesus out of Christmas.
….wait thats not how that goes…
Christ out of Christmas.
Back on track now y’all.
I sort of hate this time of year. While I am indeed a sucker for twinkle lights, hot drinks, snowy wonderlands, and copious amounts of body poisoning sugar, I find myself in this season more resembling that tall, green, furry Dr. Suess character that everyone sings bizarre and really sad songs about.
I suppose as an evangelical, it is necessary that I reflect on any sort of dissonance that I may have with celebrating one of the three most significant moments in human history (Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection).
The substance of my dissonance this year has to do with the greater Jesus-following community that I am a part of, which historically cries out in various capacities a selection of trite quotes:
“Quit taking “Christ” out of Christmas!”
“Remember the true meaning of Christmas!”
“It’s CHRISTmas, not Xmas”
We make ourselves the victims of perceived persecution in the west by calling any form of secularism a “The War On Christmas.”
Wow, that escalated quickly.
I am puzzled by this expression of self-perceived God defending. God is quite capable of defending himself, and the reality is, there is very little in the biblical narrative, if anything, that would allude to Jesus himself defending the corporate madhouse that we have made to “celebrate” his birth, really , just the opposite (See John 2, the entire book of Haggai, all of Luke…ok I get it, this will get obnoxious fast).
Jesus’ intention in coming to humanity was to bring us back into relationship with God and with each other through overthrowing the powers of darkness. He came to rescue us from our disregard of human life, the marginalizing of the poor and powerless, to set us toward loving our enemies, and experience life that comes through death, displacement and sacrifice.
To show us how to take up our cross and follow him…
Ok, so when I am triggered by the indignant response to an ill conceived war on Christmas, I am challenged to look at the bigger picture of my western cultural context to see the places where God incarnate would show up if the story is indeed the same- the story of God being born as a baby to unwed teenage parents under the oppressive tyranny of Rome.
Where are the broken people in our society?
Where are those people in our context right now? Those who are told their lives don’t matter and that violence is an appropriate response to keep them in submission to an empire?
I believe these pictures sum it up well…
Well that got awkward quick.
If Jesus came in a time where human selfishness and violence reigned and he did something about it in his birth…what makes us think that the reality is any different today?
The battle Jesus begun at Christmas was against death and evil itself, not humans. So if in our country, when we see death and evil against a community of marginalized people and as Christians are not there, I would argue that we are indeed the ones waging a war on Christmas. We live in a culture where celebration is about us, and it is comfortable. It has foods we like, people we know, gifts to be received…but if it doesn’t, at the very least recognize the suffering of others…God have mercy.
We are the ones devaluing human life and the image of God.
We are the ones choosing into comfortable cheer when Jesus humbly and painfully displaced himself.
We are the ones screaming out that “all lives matter” while simultaneously ignoring the pain of people across our nation. People who are crying out for others to displace themselves for the sake of their freedom, livelihood, and justice.
If we choose to enter into the story of Christmas, we enter into the story of God come as both king and baby, fully displaced, to fight against human suffering and violence by loving and serving. If we are not in it right now with the suffering and oppressed, we have missed the whole point.
We wage a war on Christmas in our utter disregard and indifference to the reality that God incarnated as a marginalized person to free the marginalized in society.
So get involved.
Give your money away.
Make a friend with someone who doesn’t look like you.
And yes, celebrate, but celebrate the right things.
It’s not about consumerism, nativities, holiday specials, elaborate church services, or any of that. It is about following the living God into celebration because he loved us enough to not leave us to our own destruction and violence.
It is about the humility of God to become a human and show us the best way to live, one where we can be reconciled to him and to each other, have whole relationships and pursue holistic personhood. Who came so we could experience joy, freedom, beauty, Christmas snacks, Charlie Brown specials, 60” televisions, everything nutmeg related, and hallmark spec….nevermind.
The point it is, I am not calling for a dismantling of all things cheerful, just a critical reflection on the time and way that Jesus came and for us to come and do the same for the sake of our own and others flourishing- especially when there is such a critical opportunity in our national context to show that life.
So really, Merry Christmas y’all.
Enjoy the time, its totally worth celebrating, but do not forget your brothers and sisters in the process.