TIME FOR A TRUCE IN THE WAR ON CHRISTMAS
We are now dashing towards the finish line of this sacred holiday season of peace on earth, goodwill toward men, batteries not included, and some assembly required. And once again this year, the airwaves are full of TV and radio commentators screaming about “The War on Christmas!”
It’s a holiday tradition ranking right up there with Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowperson, and roasting our chestnuts over an open fire while Jack Frost nips at our noses. Pundits such as Bill O’Reilly appear on our TV screens and rail about how secular humanists and “diversity and inclusion advocates” are “taking Christ out of Christmas!”
Over the last few Decembers, the “Grinches” whom commentators contend are trying to steal Christmas have been businesses that put up signs that proclaim “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas!”
And this year, the celebrity-journalists who are urging us to defend Baby Jesus in the war on Christmas now have two new enemies.
The first is Starbucks. A few weeks ago, media talk show hosts launched the latest salvo in their defense of Christmas, breathtakingly sharing the news that Starbucks had taken Christmas symbols off its coffee cups, making 2015 “holiday cups” simply red.
It’s latte without the Lord!
The other Grinch we have been warned about is the Diversity Office at my alma mater, the University of Tennessee. Late last month, the academic bureaucrats in that office issued a campus-wide email urging that student and faculty “holiday parties” be inclusive, and not be “Christmas parties in disguise.”
Fox News devoted an entire segment to this latest battle in the war on Christmas, and even featured an interview with Congressman John Duncan of Knoxville, who expressed his outrage over this new assault on Christmas. Tennessee legislative leaders joined in the battle, threatening to cut funding for the University, causing the University’s Chancellor to apologize for the attack on Christmas parties in disguise.
Well, I’m a Christian who loves Christmas. My wife and I throw a big Christmas party every year, and we don’t disguise it at all.
I love everything about Christmas. I love going Christmas shopping with my daughter. I love sending and receiving Christmas cards. I love watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Miracle on 34th Street” on TV.
I love putting up a Christmas tree and decorating my house with enough lights to make it look like a Las Vegas casino.
And, of course, I love the excitement of Christmas Eve and the joy of Christmas morning.
But let’s be honest. Most all of these Christmas traditions don’t have a mistletoe-picking thing to do with the meaning of Christmas.
The true Christmas story is about a refugee baby who was born 2,000 years ago to an unwed mother. He wasn’t a Christian baby. He was Jewish.
He wasn’t born in a beautiful home decked with Christmas lights. He was literally born in a barn … a stinky, smelly barn alongside a bunch of animals.
He did get some gifts from three wise men who came to visit him. According to the Scriptures, these gifts were gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But Mary and Joseph didn’t take that gold to Bed, Bath and Beyond for a spending spree.
They didn’t even go to Starbucks of Bethlehem for a red cup of holiday spice flat white.
If there really is a war on Christmas, it was launched long ago by … well, by us Christians who at some point in human history decided we would celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior by spending money as if we were drunk Congressmen.
Don’t get me wrong. Most Christians (myself included) go to church on Christmas Eve and put money in the Salvation Army kettle when we’re out Christmas shopping. Like many Memphis families, my wife and kids and I spend Christmas morning delivering meals and presents to needy folks through a wonderful program sponsored by the Metropolitan Interfaith Association.
But all the weeping and gnashing of teeth about the so-called “war on Christmas” in no way promotes peace on earth and goodwill toward men and women. It self-righteously declares that folks who try to be inclusive at Christmas aren’t really true believers.
I’m no theologian, but it seems to me that ironically the debate over “the war on Christmas” undermines the real Christmas message … an inclusive one of tidings of great joy to all people. (Luke 2:10).
And so this Christmas Eve let’s call a truce. It’s time to quit talking about the “war on Christmas” and actually celebrate peace … yes, peace on earth and goodwill toward … everybody.