So tis the season for some Christians to get all worked up over the perceived war on Christmas. I used to be one of those who would get upset when someone would say "Happy Holidays" rather than Merry Christmas. I used to get peeved when one town after another would outlaw their Christmas display, then I started to see news reports of how Christians are being treated in other parts of the world and suddenly it all seemed so stupid.
I would like to ask a series of questions to frame my response to all of this. Are you, as a Christian, prevented by anyone from setting up a Christmas tree in your home? Are you, as a Christian, prevented from attending the church of your choice on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? Are you, as a Christian, prevented from saying "Merry Christmas" to anyone you choose? Or when you hear "Happy Holidays," do you respond with Merry Christmas? Have armed rebels stormed your church or home and taken you hostage or shot you in the street just for being a Christian? My guess the answer to all of these questions is no.
Just yesterday, it was reported in the news that Syrian rebels have reentered the Syrian city of Maaloula, entered a Christian monastery, which also serves as an orphanage, kidnapped the 12 nuns living there and desecrated the monastery's church. This was done for no other reason than they are Christians. That is persecution.
The real reason for the season is the story itself. A couple could not find a place for the woman to have her child. They knocked on door after door and were turned away from each of them until they found a place in the barn with the animals. She lay in the hay and gave birth to the Savior of the World, not with trumpets sounding, but with the sounds of the animals that were gathered around. Shunned by all of humanity, it was the animals that witnessed the very birth of the savior. "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us," John 1:14. This is the reason for the season.
Christ came into this world in the humblest way a human can, in a space that his parents borrowed full of animals. Christ came into this world to save humanity, you and me. He came to dwell in your heart, not in some plastic figure on the lawn of town hall. The true spirit of Christmas lies within each and every one of us in our hearts, not in Walmart or Target. We are to love and help each other and to worship the God who created us, and we do that in Church not around some tree.
The real war on Christmas is the number of people who will go without food and adequate housing. The real war on Christmas is the teenage girl who has been thrown out on the street by her parents because she is pregnant. The real war on Christmas is the stranger that will not be welcome just because he looks different than the rest of us. The real war on Christmas is the fact that most Churches will be virtually empty on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day yet the retail outlets will be jam packed. The real war on Christmas is that we choose to focus on the nonsense while our Christian brothers and sisters around the world are being killed for no other reason than they are Christian and we stand by and do nothing! That is the real war on Christmas.
If we keep the spirit of Christmas alive in our hearts and in our homes, if we keep the true spirit of Christmas in mind, that Christ came to give us the greatest gift of all, eternal life, then the war on Christmas suddenly becomes nonsense.
So next time you're standing in line, gripping your credit card, buying more stuff than you do not need and getting further in debt, and the person behind the cash register says "Happy Holidays," look them in the eye and say thank you, and wish them a Merry Christmas. "Tis the season to be jolly," so start acting jolly!