Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christ Back In Christmas?!




It's that time of year again! A time to make hot chocolate and watch classic Christmas movies. A time to celebrate with family and friends and to spread the "holiday cheer."But of course, Above all, it's the time of year to make sure that you give the appropriate response when greeted at the door of your local super market. Right?
A few years ago I was listening to a man speak to youth about the need to get Christ back in Christmas. He told a "thrilling" story of being at a supermarket buying his CHRISTmas tree and as he made his way out the door and into the parking lot one of the greeters said their farewells by blurting out a few blasphemous words, "Happy Holidays," the pagan door greeter proclaimed.
As the speaker got to the next part of his story, you could see a bit of pride come over him as if the next part was going to be huge and blow some minds. He continued by telling us of how he looked that greeter right in the face and, as any faithful, follower of Christ would do, he responded with a "MERRY CHRISTMAS." Now there is nothing wrong with the response unless you understand that it sounded a lot more like "Screw You" than Merry Christmas.
In this man's mind he had just done Christians everywhere a favor by taking a stand for Christ, and insinuated that this was every Christians calling during the Holiday season. To put the Christ back in Christmas.
Why is it that we find things like this (writing Xmas on a store marquee, or someone saying Happy Holidays) offensive, yet we sit in silence and seemingly unaffected when we hear of REAL injustices going on in our world such as hunger, child labor, genocide, or even the anti-gay bill that is trying to be passed in Uganda?
I am reminded of the fourth chapter of the book of Jonah. Jonah has been to Nineveh and is now angry at God because of the Grace He has shown to the sinners (Thank God this doesn't fit the description of "X"ians today). Jonah picks out a box seat, watching and anticipating how God is going to destroy the city. Since the Sun is hot that day, God graciously causes a vine to grow and provide shade for Jonah as he waits. "Jonah was very happy about the vine." However, The next day God sends a worm to destroy the vine and Jonah was no longer shaded from the scorching heat. Jonah's response, "I am angry enough to die!"
The story of Jonah ends like this... 10 But the LORD said, "You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?"
God points out to Jonah how small and pointless the vine is compared to the thousands of people in Nineveh who can not even tell right from wrong. I think too many Christians today are making a big fuss over the weeds and ignoring much more important matters to be conserned with. Why do we do this? Because its easy. It's easy to snap back at an unexpecting greeter with the words Merry Christmas. It's easy to make a to sign petitions against the Harry Potter books or the new controversial movie playing in theaters, but it takes faith and courage to stand up for the oppressed and those on the backside of justice, and to be the voice of those who have no voice, to not only love our neighbors but also our enemies. I love the way David Dark talks about this in his book, "The Sacredness of Questioning Everything". He says, "If we are more opposed for instance in what we take to be "bad language" and nude scenes and films about gay people than we are to people being blown up, starved to death, deprived of life-saving medicine,or tortured, our offendedness is out of whack."
May we, as followers of Christ, truly seek to magnify Christ this holiday season, not by angry, boastful rewsponses, but by actually living out the teachings of Jesus, by loving those who are hard to love, and by caring about those who Jesus cares about, which inlcude the "happy holiday" greeters at your local supermarket and absolutley everyone else.

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