The War on Christmas

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Just a brief historical reminder from your friendly local pastor….

The war on Christmas is real. Here’s what happened:

In the days of Caesar Augustus, when Herod was King of the Jews, a baby was born to the most unlikely parents you could imagine: a teenage single mother and her confused, but incredibly honorable fiancé. No one knew about it and no one cared.

Except.

A few regional shepherds got wind of it by means of an angel choir. They paid a visit and were astonished. Then again, no one really cared what shepherds thought back then except for their mothers. Even then it was up for grabs…

A couple of years later some pretty cool eastern mystics stopped by for a visit to this boy. They knew he was the true King and treated him as such. The irony that they were of the wrong religious background is lost on most of us.

But it wasn’t lost on Herod. He heard about the Magi visit and promptly lost his mind, ordering the slaughter of the innocents and accidentally revisiting Jeremiah’s haunting words that Rachel is weeping and won’t be comforted for her children are no more.

I am a father to 3 children. I cannot begin to fathom it.

This little boy king grew up strong in stature, confounding the religious elders all his life, showing that the true way of God is service and love for all: love for neighbor, love for enemy. Self sacrificial love. He taught it. He lived it. He died it. He rose it.

Fast forward a couple of thousand years and Herod is a blip in the history books and a footnote in the DSM IV. Caesar Augustus is a multiple choice answer on a middle school quiz. Jesus is the single most history changing person to ever live. A good deal of humanity in some way or other have discovered the incredible news that Jesus is King and that living under the sovereignty of this King is the true way of human freedom and flourishing. Shalom is how the old timers used to say it.

Herod and Caesar held cultural power and wielded it with extreme prejudice against their subjects. Jesus held no cultural power, but immense divine power and offered it sacrificially for his subjects, for their sake. For my sake.

History would agree it was really no contest: Jesus won the war on Christmas. He reigns today, but in the same way he always reigned: subversive, serving, sacrificing, forgiving, inviting. His yoke is easy and his burden is light.

But Jesus is not at war with a retail establishment and nor should his followers be. The job of a retail establishment is not to proclaim the peace of Christ, the good news that brings great joy.

That’s our job, Christians. We really shouldn’t be outsourcing the bidding of peace to retail. If history is our guide, anytime the church outsources the gospel, the message gets confused. Do we really want our retail establishments proclaiming the message?

Please. Please. Christians. Stop outsourcing the gospel and stop expecting your retail neighbors to proclaim the good news of Jesus.

Instead, learn to love your retail neighbors. Not by boycotts and letters and web rants, or worse yet, by accosting some local barista who is just trying to make 40 cups per hour, hit the store metrics and pay her bills. But by simple courtesy, gratitude and kindness. More listening, less speaking. More care, less heat.

If you do in fact choose to wish your barista a merry Christmas which may be an excellent thing to do, here’s a threat from your friendly local pastor: take a moment to check your heart first. Because if you are wielding “Merry Christmas” as a weapon, then you’re on the wrong side of Christmas. You’re representing Herod and Caesar, not the true King.

May the good news of Jesus and his love revolution infect all our hearts, bursting out of our corpuscles so that a hurting, cynical, exhausted world can know: there is a God. God is for you. God can be with you. Immanuel.

Merry Christmas.

16 Replies to “The War on Christmas”

  1. Great post Steve.  This whole series has been wonderful as it has been the approach I have been trying to take with my close friends who are consistently surprised when I refuse to fight with them regarding Christian issues and news items. Would you mind if I shared it on my Facebook page?

    Eric Christianson 303-219-0272

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  2. I agree with the document … The problem is that as Christians or Born Again Believers most lack the backbone to stop drinking SB and hit their wallet … But we are soft !!! SB loves the Christmas money but the the spirit of Christmas…

    Really it’s our fault becouse as a people we stand for nothing , the church does not have the Sparten Spirit

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  3. Agree with Dennis. While I totally agree with you that we should be examples of Christ’s love in our own lives and not expecting our retailers to do so, I still will continue not to support Starbucks and others whose leadership profoundly and unashamedly bashes the Gospel and makes it obvious any money I would spend there goes toward supporting anti-scriptural lifestyle promotion. So, sorry. Starbucks will still never see a dime of mine. And I must also say, in love, I don’t believe Herod “accidentally” revisited the scripture regarding Rachel weeping for her children – there are no accidents in the Bible.

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    1. G’day Amy, thanks for your thoughts. The “accident” was Herod’s and is written somewhat tongue in cheek. Herod thought he was calling the shots, but was unwittingly contributing to fulfilling prophecy. best to you

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    2. I honestly would like to know how they are bashing the gospel? They have never made a Christmas cup, just ones with snowflakes and snowmen on them. They also sell a Christmas blend of coffee, an Advent Calendar, Christmas cards, Christmas gift cards, and even Christmas tree ornaments. They do not however sell anything for other religious holidays.

      I’m not sure I see where any of this lands as them doing any of what you say.

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  4. No one should be “warring” at Christmas, it is a time of selfless love, generosity, kindness and giving; after all, most religions celebrate this time of year and “Happy Holidays” simply includes everyone in the spirit of Christmas. If you were politically correct you would be wishing Jesus
    “Happy Hanukah”. Stop being so sensitive, and start exhibiting your Christian values, “LOVE ONE ANOTHER”.

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  5. Well said! These words, in my opinion, are true no matter what. Don’t say “God Bless You” in order to get a rise out of someone, or to use it as a weapon either. Don’t Use Christ or God to hurt others publicly or privately. Jesus died for all of us. His followers and chosen Apostles were sinners. When we forget that, we forgot why He came to us. We forget Who he came here to save. God commands us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. If we condemn our neighbors, then we condemn ourselves.

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  6. I confess that I clicked on the link just to see what kind of a fuss one of the members of the cloth might be raising up about how they feel persecuted in this country, particularly at this time of year, by the retail establishment of this country. We who live in this (oftentimes) great nation where we can worship as we see fit, and our own spiritual journeys are free to meander as we grow older and (hopefully) wiser without the threat of death or imprisonment hanging over us if we don’t toe the party line.
    Needless to say, I was more than pleasantly surprised to see a thoughtful reflection of the fact that it’s just a dang cup and if that is what is going to condemn your soul to the fires of hell and damnation you’ve got bigger issues. (There’s also the fact that less than 50% of the adults in this country identify themselves as Christian – so why do they get to decided what goes on the outside of someone’s coffee cup??)
    Thanks for your wit + intelligent post, Steve –

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