It has been termed the War on Christmas, referring to the movement to replace “Merry Christmas” with a more generic “Happy Holidays.”
To put the best construction on the movement, it’s a considerate gesture to acknowledge the legitimacy of other traditions like Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. To put a less charitable construction on it, the movement is an intentional effort to further secularize our society and erase Christ from our common vocabulary.
I’ll be saying “Merry Christmas.”
Are there any lessons to learn from the “Happy Holidays” movement? Here are some thoughts:
- Maybe there is a better phrase to speak in December. I vote for Happy Advent! Advent is a wonderful time of reflection and preparation. Christmas is December 25 and onward. Right now is Advent. Of course, we can think ahead and say in advance, “I hope you have a merry Christmas.” But there is value to celebrating Advent in its fullness, creating anticipation for the wonderful celebration of our Lord’s birth.
- No one likes to feel left out. How do we more clearly communicate that Jesus came into the world for all people? He wants to include all people in His Kingdom. Many people think of Christianity as exclusive. I see Christianity as radically inclusive. Jesus was born for all people, died for all people, and rose for all people. Anyone can receive His gifts of life and salvation by faith.
- We preserve the Christian nature of the holiday season when our faith and actions go together. As James wrote, “Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:17) It has been said that serving is the new evangelism. In other words, by helping other we communicate something about our faith. By serving others, we earn the right to be heard and gain credibility for our message of God’s love and grace. Here’s a graphic sent to me:
- In its earliest days, the Christian Church grew when persecuted. (“Happy Holidays” is not equivalent to early Christians being thrown to the lions, so I wouldn’t call the “War on Christmas” persecution. Maybe cultural pushback?) A common problem often brings people together. Try saying “Merry Christmas” and see if the other person doesn’t light up by being in the presence of someone who values Christmas as they do.
I visited a member in the hospital the other day. The patient introduced me to the nurse as her pastor. After the introduction, the nurse spoke in spiritual terms using words like God and blessing. It was as if he felt freedom to express his faith in the workplace, and he was happy about it.
When two Christians “discover” each other, it can have a bonding effect. Before the fish became a universal symbol for Christianity, it first was an undercover way of Christians identifying themselves to one another. One Christian would draw half of the fish. If the other person was a Christian, he or she knew what to do – draw the other half and complete the picture. During that era, the church grew organically by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Who knows? God might use the so-called War on Christmas and other cultural pushback to band believers together and light a motivational fire under His church.