Before I begin, I know it has been forever :) Having spent the summer preparing to go back to school and then actually doing it, has dominated most of my time...which has most certainly been a good thing. Life at Asbury Theological Seminary has been and continues to be everything that I had hoped it would be and SOOO much more. It is truly a blessing. So, while it definitely cuts into the blogging time, that is definitely not a bad thing…probably in more ways than one.
What better way to mark my return to the Cantankerous Christian than to write about one of my favorite subjects in the whole, wide world? Christmas. As I look at the counter, it’s already dropped to 70 days and seems to be picking up steam. I’m absolutely giddy with anticipation as you can probably imagine. One of the coolest things about being such a well known Christmas fanatic is that I have become the go-to guy for Christmas questions, stories, and discussions. The kids at church now demand to know how many days it is to the blessed day. Needless to say, I’m having a blast.
This morning, through Facebook, I was having one of these Christmas-centric discussions, when the question turned to the commercialization of Christmas. The discussion was centered on the observation that the stores are currently rushing to get their Christmas merchandise out. It’s a conversation that I hear year after year, after year, after year. And I always listen patiently and smile. Honestly, I usually don’t have much of a response. The points are always valid, there’s no denying that. For most people, Christmas is about everything and anything, but what it should be. I get that. Me? I get Christmas. I try to live my life in, through, and for Christ in such a way as to honor him year around. I don’t need a special day or season to do that.
The decorations, lights, trees, and all that good stuff? For me, it’s more about remembering family, friends, and good times. Nothing about those things (lights, trees, and such) evokes the images of the life of Christ and His words for me. Just the other day while perusing Christmas decorations, I smelled the distinctive smell of garland. Instantly I was transported back to Keokuk, Iowa, in the house on Williams St, decorating the tree with my mom, and watching the Mr. Magoo Christmas Carol on tv…circa 1977. And this big old grump was reduced to a big, old lump. I have so many wonderful memories tied to that time of year, that I just can’t help it. Do I take the time to remember Christ? Yup, but in those regards it is no different than any other day. I don’t need a special day, once a year to do that. Christmas to me is more about spreading joy and cheer, and just flat out having fun. My problem? I tend to try and use that as an excuse to do those things all year long :)
However, this is not what this particular blog is about; me and my Christmas illness. I’m quite happy with my illness, so leave me alone :P. When the question was raised, for maybe the first time, I really took time to ponder it and I quickly came to a conclusion…and hoo-boy is this one probably going to ruffle some feathers.
I think the once a year indignation that Christians feel at the commercialization of “their” holiday is far more tragic than the commercialization of said holiday. As Christians, we get all riled up when stores put their stuff out too early. We cluck out tongues at the “more, more, more” mentality presented in holiday commercials. We get upset when other faith groups protest the displays of our holiday. We shake our heads and our fists at the lines, the rushes, and the traffic. We feel the righteous indignation rise from deep within our innermost places when a store greeter has the audacity to bid us a “Happy Holiday”, rather than a “Merry Christmas”. I’m convinced that most of us spend the holidays angry, brooding, and heartbroken over the way the celebration of the birth of our savior is treated. Tragic stuff that is. We must defend the sanctity of such a holy day.
However, I’m left wondering about the rest of the year, which almost certainly contains the real birthday of our Lord and Savior. We get all bent out of shape over the mistreatment of a holiday, for which most experts agree, does not signify the actual birthday of Jesus. (As I joked with one friend, by counting down the days and celebrating Christmas everyday, I’m certain to nail the right one sooner or later) We grow voices and courage, we’re not afraid to speak our mind, we don’t hesitate to take a stand against such travesties as the local Wally World putting out Christmas decorations in October.
But it raises some questions for me. Where are the voices the rest of the year? Where are the stands being taken? Where is the courage? Especially when it comes to our churches, our families, and the world around us? We’ll take stands against the commercialization of Christmas, but we won’t take a stand against theologically unsound doctrines being preached from our pulpits? We’ll raise our voices against someone who gives us the incorrect greeting at a store, but we refuse to raise our voices against the injustices going on around us, even within our churches? We worry about whether or not people take the time to truly remember the birth of Christ, but we cannot concern ourselves with the souls and wars being lost within our own walls? We’ll stand tall and we’ll stand proud in defense of our holiday, yet we will not stand tall and proud for a savior that hung from a cross for us?
Does anyone else see the disconnect here? I hear more Christians during the holidays boldly defending and standing for their faith in a day and celebration, than I do the rest of the year about things for which we really should be concerning ourselves with. Me? I’m going to continue to enjoy and celebrate Christmas year around….The sleigh is big, the cookies are awesome, and the Savior worthy. I would absolutely love to have some company.