I was amused to receive a Christmas letter last week rallying against the use of the term ‘holiday tree‘ instead of the standard ‘Christmas tree’ by the American White House. ‘How can they do this?’ was the tone of the letter. ‘How can they so blanatly change the meaning of Christmas by removing Christ from it?’
I see in the media the ‘war on Christmas’ seems to have gained as much momentum and support (at least in the US) as the infamous ‘war on terror,’ and to the same degree in many areas. Protests, petitions, signs–all claiming there is a conspiracy to remove Christ from Christmas, to kow-tow to the ‘minorities’ by using the greeting ‘Happy Holidays‘ instead of ‘Merry Christmas.’
Humans seem to thrive on conspiracy theories. Whether they originate in the ‘tea party movement,’ the Church, or amongst those who are seeking out extra-terrestrial life, great stories of government cover-ups and vows of silence amongst the authorities abound. Why else the great success of books and movies such as The Da Vinci Code?
So a few people have decided to say ‘Happy Holidays’ and decorate ‘holiday trees.’ Is the end of the world nearer just because they have removed the word ‘Christ’ from the greeting or taken the religious holiday’s name out of the picture? Is this really as sign that the dark forces have won? Really?
Let’s face it: for years many have been calling themselves ‘Christian’ without any sign of Christ being a part of their life. I don’t see many protests about that. Their life seems to not show any sign of the presence of the Christ, nor any evidence that Jesus influences any part of their world. Yet, again, no ‘war on Christians’ is evident.
It’s like the term I see on Twitter so often (shortened to fit as much as possible into the 140-character constraint): Xian. After all, we have Xmas–why not give Christianity (or Xianity) the same treatment?
Some might say that it’s about time we faced up to the fact that we do not carry the name of Christ by actually believing–much less following–what Jesus did. Can we say our lives are characterised by genuine concern for others, compassion, tenderness, gratitude, a deep peace, and a honesty that was the life of Jesus? How can we call ourselves ‘Christian’ if we do not truly die to ourselves to follow him? Can we truly take his name who will not walk in his steps?
So let’s be honest. We celebrate Xmas. It’s not about Christ; it’s about presents, family, eating, and fun in the sun (or snow as the case may be). A more truthful greeting may well be ‘Happy Holidays.’ We might as well not partake in the war on Christmas since in our very lives we have already shown Christ is not so much in our hearts as we claim.
After all, when it’s more about the name we give it than the heart we have, or what others are doing at this time of year rather than our own deeds of kindness, then something is wrong in Xianville.
After all, as Xians, caught up in the spirit of Xianity, Xmas is a time of peace and goodwill–with or without Christ.
Maybe that all needs to change . . .
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’ And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’ (Matthew 25:34-45, NLT)