(Writer’s note: This Disciplehood entry was penned and pre-posted in early January 2013, when I could look back on the Christmas season with fresh hindsight and vow to do better this year. Here’s hoping the December Disciplehood Dude thinks I’m as wise as the January Dude does.)
Sometimes I think my eggnog mug is half-empty. Other times I remember that it’s half-full.
Sometimes it bugs me that season celebrating the birth of Christ has been highjacked by commercialism and greed. Other times, I remember to be grateful that for one month of the year, Christian themes and messages have a place in mainstream society.
Often, I get mad that during the month leading up to one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar, my local Christian radio station plays less Christian music than it does during the rest of the year. You’ll hear Santa Claus is Coming to Town on Shine FM in December just as often as (or maybe more often than) Joy to the World. But occasionally I remember to rejoice that secular stations actually play some worship music during the last month of the year. You’re as likely to hear O Little Town of Bethlehem as Silver Bells on many Calgary radio stations.
Sometimes I get sucked into the pervasive anger that we ‘can’t’ say Merry Christmas in malls anymore. But other times, I see the upside of being required to separate secular midwinter commercialism and the holy celebration of the birth of Christ. (See Exce$$mas for more on this line of thinking.)
If I choose to be grumpy, there are more than enough reasons to get my stockings in a knot during the Christmas season. And I’m not the only one.
If there were a Passive Aggressive Hostilometer on Facebook, I think it would have set an all-time record in 2012. Try to be inclusive by using the term ‘holiday tree,’ and you risked getting your e-head bitten off by a rabid anti-secularization crusader. More noses were out of joint on all sides of the annual Christmas controversies than I’ve seen before on social media.
I largely stayed out of it, but mostly because I was too busy to come up with anything I felt was clever enough, that hadn’t been said already.
It felt like Christian bashing – a not-so subtle assault on us for condemning all other religions as pagan with our left hands, while stealing their best traditions and passing them off as our own with our right hands.
And maybe that’s exactly what the authors of the e-poster meant to accomplish. And maybe they had a point.
But as I looked through my half-empty nog mug, I was tempted to retort with a multi-pronged argument that would have utterly refuted the implied anti-Christian overtones of the message, and entirely justified Christians’ use of the previously pagan traditions to advance the cause of Christ. But as ironclad and irrefutible as my position was, I chose not to share it in mid-December 2012, simply because I was tired of all the arguing.
Near the end of the month, I took another look at the last line of the text (“All you need to enjoy these winter festivities is to be merry. Merry Christmas!“) and was glad I didn’t carve up the heathens with my rapier wit. I think I might have initially missed the point of this e-poster.
So for this brief moment that I’ve noticed my eggnog mug is half-full, here’s what the pagans have taught me:
Whatever the origins are of these traditions, they’ve come together to form something that’s pretty awesome. Let’s celebrate it!
Whatever you call this season, and whatever it means to you, it’s supposed to be an excuse for all of us to be merry! To be nicer to each other. To find enjoyment in whatever we’re doing and whoever we’re doing it with. To try to look past our differences, not to put extra emphasis on them.
Whatever the authors of this Truth Saves e-poster intended, I see it as an invitation for all of us (maybe especially us Christians) to fight less and love more. Let’s let God fight His own battles, and try harder to simply love Him by loving His children every way we can think of.
Let’s help people to know we are Christians by our love, not by our ability to win arguments. And when I say ‘our love’, I mean our love of people, not of our holiday terminology.
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” – Luke 2:14
Peace be with you.