Well, it's that time of year again. Television specials and commercials, music in the malls, red and green store displays, lighted houses and decorated street lights, and the ongoing controversy over how we should wish each other well. Do you say, "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays?"
I tend to be a bit on the Ba-Humbug side when Christmas rolls around. Especially when it starts rolling around right after Labor Day. I think we make way too big a fuss. The day we celebrate that is supposed to be all about peace on earth brings anything but peace.
Yesterday, Rick and I ventured out to an outlet mall in a nearby town. Traffic entering the mall area was backed up for a mile and a dozen perturbed police officers risked their lives in the middle of intersections waving and swinging their arms like windmills in a hurricane. We drove around and around looking not for an up-close parking place, but ANY parking place. As we zig-zagged back and forth through the parking lot I saw one poor lady, in heels mind you, scaling a very steep sandy embankment as she returned to her car. She carried one small sack. I felt her pain and hoped that the gift she carried was for her mother. Only a mother would appreciate that kind of effort put into purchasing a gift. We finally found a parking spot -- up the same embankment -- which was a couple of blocks away from the mall. We waited patiently with our blinker on for the car occupying the space to back out. Coming from the opposite direction was a lady who had that look on her face that made us think she just might be willing to fight us for the spot. Our truck was bigger than her automobile, so we won.
We walked the long way to the mall. I really had no desire to slide down the embankment on my backside. As we entered the mall area, I could hardly believe my eyes. Thousands of people crowded the stores and spilled over the walkways. There was a "wait" to get into the Coach purse store. We shuffled and bumped along the sidewalk, pushed our way into a couple of stores, then exasperated, hiked back up the hill to the truck. Wow. Tis the season to be jolly! I mumbled fa la la la la all the way home.
Yes, I think we make way too big a fuss over Christmas. I don't recall any scripture that commands us to celebrate the birth of our Lord. On the other hand, the book of Luke records the words of Christ which tell us to remember his broken body and spilled blood. For it was His death and resurrection, His sacrifice that saves us, not His birth alone. So, I struggle with so much emphasis placed on this season we call Christmas. Therefore, the controversy over Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays is a perplexing matter for me.
It saddens me that some power outside my own seems to make every attempt to remove Christ from our culture. I have joined other believers in signing petitions and contacting corporate big wigs in effort to keep the reference of Christ in the December holiday, but I'm not getting on my soap box about it. I guess I see it as a sign of the last days in which we live. I don't care what you call it, Christmas or Santa's Big Day, a label will not change the hearts of men. As long as we focus on buying gifts, being merry, and yes, even the birth of the Christ Child, the sinful wicked hearts of men and women will remain unbroken and unchanged. Only when we see and admit our sinful condition, realize the real cost of true and everlasting peace, then accept the sacrificial love of our Creator and Lord will Christ be welcomed in our culture.
So, is it that big of a deal? I heard a pastor once say during a children's sermon, "Just because someone calls you stupid, does that make you stupid?" Just because we call the day "Christmas," does that make Christ our focus? Or if we call the entire period of time between Thanksgiving and the beginning of the new year "Holidays," does that mean that we do not acknowledge Christ as our savior? Each must examine for himself the condition of his heart and decide how he wants to label the season of gift giving, festive parties, and twinkling lights.
I am comforted by Philippians 2:9-11. "Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name; that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and thing on earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (ASV) No matter what you call it, Jesus is still Lord, and some day EVERY tongue will confess that fact, like it or not. So in the end... we win! Merry Christmas and happy holidays. May all your days be filled with charity, hope and peace.