Friday, December 3, 2010

This whole Christmas thing

Every year about this time as the stores begin their onslaught of Christmas sales and people make their sacrifices to the gods of consumerism. Each year it becomes easier too. Once we had to actually go to the bank and take out money. Now we can simply swipe a card and, if the stress hasn't made us forget the PIN, we're done. Laden down with our bounty of stuff we head home to wrap the gifts, decorate the house and snarl at anybody with the temerity to disturb our celebration of peace and joy.

At the same time the "Put Christ back in Christmas" people come out in all their forms urging the world to remember that this whole thing is about a baby born in a manger whose name is Jesus. They are right. It is Jesus' birth we are celebrating. Without him we wouldn't have Christmas.

We would, however, probably still have some huge consumerist binge, but it would be called Solstice or Saturnalia, or some other catchy phrase. It's just that since the empire took over Christianity we have had a hard time separating ourselves as Christians from ourselves as inhabitants of a world that really doesn't believe the same things that we do.

I'm all for putting Christ back into Christmas, in my own personal life and in the life of the church which I serve. But can I really expect the Wal-mart employee who is not Christian to put Christ into their Christmas? While it is absolutely essential for people of faith to celebrate with faith, it is also necessary to recognize that we no longer rule the world. We are a minority.

I am not going to stop wishing people a Merry Christmas, because that would mean that people of other faiths and other celebrations would also have to stop. I will not stop reading the Christmas story in church and in my home, but I am not going to demand that Frosty and Rudolph be replace by the Little Drummer Boy and the Littlest Angel as specials on TV.

I truly believe that Christians were never meant to be the majority. We are supposed to the people on the edges who call out for justice and peace. If we become too strident about things that don't directly effect the Gospel, then we won't be listened to when it is really important.

So go ahead, put Christ back in Christmas, but put him back in Valentine's and St. Patrick's Easter and Canada Day or July 4. In fact put him back into every day you live - and that peace and joy we celebrate at Christmas may just last through the entire year.

Even through Christmas.

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