Thursday, December 15, 2005

My Frustration This Year

Christmas... Holiday... Christmas. Holiday. CHRISTMAS. HOLIDAY. CHRISTMAS!!! HOLIDAY!!!

Please, Lord, make it stop!!

I know we all have differing opinions and viewpoints and make different decisions. But this year has been the most frustrating pile of opinions and viewpoints that I have heard. Everywhere you go, everything you hear, everything you see, has this debate. On the news everywhere, on blogs and discussion boards all I hear is how horrible it is that the word Christmas has been changed to Holiday in stores and cards and all over.

I have thought it out.

I don't believe I care what word you use. Regardless of what religion or denomination you are or aren't, I don't believe it matters. We are a nation at war, a country fighting hunger, a church trying to share Good News, and we would rather spend our time arguing about what we want to call this season and who is right or wrong for not saying what WE want them to say. And why WE are offended. Bah. It rather all makes me want to vomit.

Since I am not all that eloquent, I have attached an article from Relevant Magazine which says so much more clearly how I (and I'm sure others) have felt throughout this past month. It's long, but so meaningful and well worth the read.

"I am nearly confident that if Christ were born in 2005 the brief verses
involving the magi in Matthew 2 would read something like this: 'Now after Jesus
was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east
arrived in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?
For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him." [But those who
believed in the deity of the Messiah prevented the magi from worshipping Him
because they were pagan Gentiles and did not call Jesus the Messiah but rather
by the Greek name, Christ. Frustrated by their blocked attempt to worship the
one who came to bring hope and salvation to all men, they returned to the
The evangelical Christian movement today finds itself deadlocked in
an ideological battle over Christmas. The American Family Association boasts
nearly 3 million members and has an active campaign to put Christmas back into
the holiday shopping season. Bill O’Reilly mentioned on The O’Reilly Factor that
businesses should be thanking Christ for the holiday season that boosts their
sales. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert has ordered that the Capitol tree be
renamed the "Capitol Christmas Tree" after it was changed in the late 1990s to
the "Holiday Tree." Never before has there been such an overt war against
secularism at the holidays.
Satan is clever, make no mistake. It is possible for us to take our eyes off the deep issue, think we are fighting the good fight, only to discover we have our sights misaligned and are missing the target. Satan spends his time making sure Christ’s birth never gets the attention it deserves. How we play into that process is crucial to the bigger picture of the Church being salt and light to a dark world.

Before Christ was born, the ancient Romans had more holidays than any other culture in history. They were wild partiers who took every opportunity they could to drink, carouse and fornicate. In many ways, their religion was constructed around these opportunities to act like the gods they worshipped. One holiday was the winter
solstice festival, appropriately named Saturnalia after Saturn, the god of
farming. This celebration lasted from the Dec. 17 to Dec. 23 and was filled with
decorating and partying. They even had evergreens that they would chop down and
put up to celebrate the life of trees in the harshness of winter. This holiday
eventually devolved into debauchery—so much so that the word saturnalia came to
mean "orgy." Early Christians coincided Christmas with Saturnalia to avoid
religious persecution.
So where did the gift-giving and Santa Claus come into play? As early as the fourth century, Saint Nicholas, a bishop in modern day-Turkey, was known for a gift-giving lifestyle that benefited those who were impoverished. He once presented three dowries for three poor daughters to avert them from turning to prostitution in order to earn income for their family.
There are also links to German and Dutch folklore that trace back to
Christianity. Eventually, around the 17th century, these tales evolved into the
notion we have today of Santa Claus. It is in the late 1800s that the commercial
appeal of Santa Claus and Christmas took off to the astronomical economic
figures we see today. It appears, unfortunately, that the birth of the Messiah
has mostly played a backseat role to the mythological gods and
While the war we fight is ideological, we have apparently chosen to
fight a battle over semantics instead of lost souls. Whether Christmas (from old
English, meaning "Christ’s Mass") or holiday (also from old English, meaning
"Holy Day") season is employed as the term of choice, Christians appear to have
taken issue with the non-use of the term "Christmas" in stores.
While I don’t have an issue with the auspices of the debate, I think the larger war is left unfought.
Tell me, what relevance does Christmas have to a corporate executive who does not have a faith in Jesus Christ? Further, how do upset Christians appear to that executive when they demand that he recognize a holiday that he doesn't understand or to which he doesn't ascribe? As believers, why would we even want a corporation who cares nothing for the birth of Christ incarnate to capitalize on His observed birthday and name in their holiday advertising? Despite how duplicitous it is for these companies to fail to mention it altogether, it seems heretical for believers to demand that unbelievers trumpet Christ for financial gain.
It is as if the moneychangers returned to the temple demanding this time that the temple, be renamed a market. That idea is horrifying to us, yet we allow the celebration of our Savior's birthday—the entrance of hope into the world and one of the holiest days in all of redemptive history—to remain commercialized and more about what Santa may bring the kiddies than about the hope of salvation to all our weary, wayward souls. We have let Christmas become what it is—an argument over semantics. Well, 'tis the season.
There are people who turn away and turn off the magi of today from worshipping because their corporate creed does not fit our warm, fuzzy sentiments about a holiday whose true meaning we only half-heartedly embrace amid the more tangible celebration of gift-receiving and merrymaking. We should be pointing them to the reason we have to celebrate in the first place!
Christmas is the celebration of the birth of our salvation. Unfortunately,
it’s never been a holiday dedicated solely to its impact on all of humanity.
Much of the debate today centers around the narrow-minded and hypocritical view
some Christians take toward their perceived rights of ownership on the holiday
season. It is almost as if we are trying to be recognized by the world for what
we think, and in doing so, we have distracted everyone from what it is we
My suggestion is humble and simple: instead of worrying over whether we call it a holiday season or Christmas—neither of which is actually historically accurate given, its unholy origins and current forms of celebration—let’s invite everyone we know to be magi, recognizing the star in the east, the Light of our lives, and coming to see and to worship the King wherein we find hope, joy, peace and life to all.
If we are fighting the ideological battle at its root—the heart—then those who disagree with our choice of semantics or holiday displays will discover that the hope we celebrate at Christmas is universal and relevant to all mankind. We will not have to engage in the battles we are in because our message would be more easily embraced this way. Not through attempts to strong-arm unbelievers into a faith they do not yet understand because they have not been invited to come and see the King for themselves. This year, let's show them that Christmas (or the holiday season) is about more than an idealogical battle; it's about a Savior."

Relevant Mag

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