Friday, November 13, 2009

Happy Holidays

I just got a mega-forwarded e-mail thing, and read a version of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" that carried the torch of the "Happy Holidays" vs. "Merry Christmas" debate. Although it is very clever, I did not care for it. I know it is just a fun poem with profound thoughts, but I don’t think this fits “they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” When we demand separation of church and state in some situations, and then cry out to blend church and retail, that gets a bit fuzzy for me.

I know others will be surprised at this response and disagree with me. Ah, the delights and dangers of public discourse.

I have no problem with the “Happy Holidays” thing. I do not view it as an offense. I do not see a connection between retail, Christmas trees, or Winter Breaks, in connection to the celebration of the advent of Christ for me. If a corporate policy is instituted that employees must say "Happy Holidays," that is not mine to fight. I work for a public school and have my cautions when I represent the state of California. I understand that in context. That helps me with perspective on this at the corporate level.

On a personal level, Christmas trees and shopping are a holiday tradition that adds family fun for me — like fireworks on the 4th of July, really.
My celebration of the birth of Christ during this time is directly connected to time in worship and praise, Scripture, prayerful gratitude, some symbols, music, shared meals, celebrations with my community of believers, and quiet reflection. The other parts of Christmas that I also truly enjoy are folk traditions that came along through the years as the celebration expanded, and a way to love others, but not how I focus on Christ's birth directly. Easter egg hunts are fun, but that is not worship, in a similar way.

Also, I do not expect that everyone must acknowledge my faith based traditions. I am considerate of colleagues, friends, and those I work with who are Jewish, Jehovah's Witness, Orthodox, Muslim, or others that are not followers of Christ. I respect their journey. I trust the Holy Spirit to draw all people in His time.
It is disrespectful for me to greet my dear Jewish friends with a “Merry Christmas.” I will not and I will not require others to do so.

I like to ask others, such as retail people, “What holiday are you celebrating and what are your traditions?” It opens up a conversation that helps me learn about my neighbor and thereby learn to care about them. I don’t expect others to share my beliefs or guess which greeting they should speak to me. I don’t want to invest emotion in the unintended potential offense of some sweet unsuspecting person saying, “Happy Holidays,” only to hear a defensive correction from me. I want to communicate Christ in kindness.

In my opinion, this little poem can subtly create unnecessary division and continue to build borders of pride. When Christians don’t get their way in America during December, I’ll think I'll use it as a reminder to pray for the serious oppression of believers in other nations. And will remember how much is awesome in society around this season. Carols on radio stations like KOST.
And Winter Break -- I am grateful to have two weeks off around my faith holiday and holy day. My Jewish co-worker has to work on her holy days. And Thanksgiving! A national holiday to give thanks with family and friends. Rock on!

When we read Scripture, do I see anything that tells me the world will not oppose to the walk of the faithful? So is that a surprise or an expectation?

Last night I heard that the top three perceptions of Christians in America are:
  1. Anti-gay
  2. Judgmental
  3. Hypocrites

I think that is heartbreaking. How can I live in a way that pleases Christ and acknowledges the power of the Holy Spirit to wake the dead in every soul? Does “Merry Christmas” really play into that? I don’t know. To me, the Kingdom of God on earth has nothing to do with what happens as described in this poem. The power of God works around, beyond, through, and above all that in my view.

And who is “forbidden to speak of salvation and grace.” It cannot be stopped. The trees would cry out — maybe even Christmas trees! :-) And to name politicians as reindeer? Is that the disrespect of people...the “do unto others” that we wish to model for others? And “inclusive, sensitive, and di-ver-sity” is the Kingdom of God. I cannot mock that.

This is not a hill for me to die on. We, as believers, are here to love, and we have work to do. I will focus on the love that this season invites. I wish to be considerate of those who struggle for lack of love painfully accentuated at this time of year.

So, happy holidays and Merry Christmas!

1 comment:

L.Wright said...

I've had a packed autumn and I'm just now returning to your blog and mine for that matter. I totally agree with you about the need for Christians to show LOVE, the real thing. All of your comments ring true with me and especially those about the workplace. I work in a public school with some delightful students and faculty who are different from me. I want to love them and to show it. Right on with your comments. L.Wright