Happy Holidays?

6 comments Written on December 7th, 2012     
Filed under: Advent, Culture, Missional
Today’s post is written by Matt Nightingale, Director of Worship Ministries at Redeemer Covenant Church in Tulsa, OK.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the so-called “War on Christmas” lately. Here in Tulsa, it’s kind of a big thing. You see, a few years ago, the decision was made to change the name of our annual Christmas Parade to the “Holiday Parade of Lights,” and when that happened, people were not happy. The unhappiness continued until last year, when an alternative was proposed. Another parade at another venue. At exactly the same time. Peace on Earth. Goodwill to men.

Sides were formed, lines were drawn, senators lobbied, and even FOX news weighed in. And the newly-formed “Christmas Parade at Tulsa Hills” was a resounding success. 20,000 people showed up. My family and I went to the Holiday Parade, and I’m no good at estimating crowds, but… I’m thinking Christmas won. This year the parades are happening at the same time again, tomorrow night at 7:00. And again, many people are “standing up” for Christmas. You can read about it in one of the Tulsa World’s blogs.

Here’s the thing. I don’t think Christmas is going anywhere. I have a friend whose wife is Jewish. She says that every year Christmas seems to get bigger and bigger! Although I strongly disagree with the whole idea of “standing up for Christmas,” I know these people. They are good-hearted, Jesus-loving people who deeply care about helping people, sharing their faith and living lives that please God. This is not a problem of intention. But I really believe that many people have never wrestled with the real issues at stake here. As Sean Palmer writes in a brilliant blog post today, there is a war, and it is about Christmas, but it’s not what we think:

There is a terrible, profound war on Christmas. Since that “O Holy Night” there always has been. But if you believe this war is about a 20-year-old check-out girl at a department store wishing you “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas,” you’ve simply let loose of your horses. The real war is within you and it is within me.

Read the rest of his post here. It’s well worth your time.

May the true Jesus, the Jesus who came to bring peace to all humankind, who willingly gave up His rights and power, be honored during this season as we celebrate His advent and birth. And may we who are called to bear His name extend His love and grace to all – even those who celebrate Hannukah and Kwanzaa – as we remember that non-Christians are not our enemies.

And even if they were, I think Jesus was pretty clear about how we are to treat our enemies.

What would happen if it were the Christians who were going out of our way to include everyone, to make everyone feel special and loved this holiday season, rather than the Christians fighting for power, demanding our “rights”? What if we were laying down our lives and spreading the message of Jesus in our actions instead of our proclamations? Let’s try it and see.

Happy Holidays.

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6 comments “Happy Holidays?”

Excellent challenge, and well said.  Thank you Matt.
Love the sign off =).

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Brilliant 🙂 I’m tired of being angry, I decided not to be angry about Christmas this year (I tend to go the other direction, lamenting the consumerism and the clichés and the sentimentality instead of telling and living the raw, hard, messy story that was Jesus’ incarnation …). So far it’s going pretty well …

A few years ago I was in South Dakota and our projector screen was … dismal. And I put a cartoon nativity up on the screen and said “happy holidays” and wouldn’t you know it, a lady comes into my office and kinda let loose on me that we shouldn’t compromise, it should be ‘merry christmas’ only. The first thing I asked was, “so, you’re telling me that Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany are only one holiday, and not plural?” … there was a pause, and she said “oh, ok, I guess you could say happy holidays if that’s what you meant.” Then I asked about the screen, and she hadn’t seen the nativity underneath it. She’s one of the few friends I have left from that town – solid friend, started probably by this encounter – but it’s something we laugh about now that we know each other better.

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Matt – very well said and very important – the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ is not a Kingdom that we need to protect but one we need to project in the way we love those who disagree with us

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“A-a-a-men (sing it over!) A-a-a-men…” you know the rest 🙂 Thanks Matt, agreeing with yourself and all here. “Why love when we can fight?” is an ethic we all (hopefull!) grow weary of as we mature…. or at least as we age. Some hills are worth it but very few imho. -Glenn

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Thanks you for the mention. Great thoughts you’ve shared here.

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