Do you know who is the most excited about this time of year?
Satan, that’s who!
You see, Satan loves all the happiness and joy being had by so many. It is precisely that joy that brings sadness to the hearts of so many others. Individuals who have lost a loved one. Those who are dealing with health or family issues. People struggling with housing or financial hardship or just those who truly have no one to share the holidays with. For them, the holidays can be a time of sadness and loneness, and that’s the window of opportunity Satan sees as a chance to break their faith. But as Christians, we are warriors for Christ, and we can help keep old Satan at bay. Try being extra nice to those around us, friends, and strangers. Smile at a stranger. Take a day and volunteer at a homeless shelter. Take an afternoon and spend it with an older person who has no one else to spend time with. Call up a family member or friend you haven’t spoken to in a while to see how they are doing. Do whatever you can because if you are lucky enough to know joy and happiness this holiday season by committing just one random act of kindness each day between now and Christmas, you would be amazed at just how much of an impact you may have on someone’s life.
An angel walks into a room with a Christian who celebrates Christmas. A Jew who celebrates Hanukkah and an African American who celebrates Kwanza. The angel quickly looks around and says Happy Holidays to everyone. At that moment, an individual in the corner sighs loudly. The angel turns to the man and asks, is there a problem, sir? To which the man responded, well, since you asked, there is. I’m so tired of you liberals and your war on Christmas. What wrong with just saying Merry Christmas as we did in the good old days. The angel looked at the man and laughed and then politely said, sir, it would seem you and not me who is waging war on Christmas. Me? Responded the man shockingly. Yes, you said the angel, for on the day Jesus was born, an angel-like myself told all those in the manger I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. He did not identify only a selection of people to wish great joy. He wished it to all. We are all God’s children, and he wishes that we love each other and respect each other faiths as his children. If you choose to turn a cold shoulder to or belittle those who wish happiness to all, then it is you who are soiling the true meaning of Christmas.
Here we go again, the call to stop the war on Christmas has begun. But I can’t help but wonder which Christmas they’re talking about? Is it the one that represents the true meaning of the day to Christians around the world or is it the one that has been hijacked by captalism celbrated for nothing more than financial gains.
The true meaning of Christmas has long been skewed by images of Santa Claus and Christmas trees. Now don’t get me wrong I’m the first one to say I love a huge Christmas tree and who doesn’t love the face of a child when they see Santa at the mall. But Christmas trees and Santa have as much to do with the true meaning of Christmas as the Easter Bunny and colored eggs have to do with Easter. Remember when Charlie Brown, dealing with the commercialization of the holiday, asked in frustration doesn’t anyone here know what the true meaning of Christmas is? Fortunately Linus was there to break it down for him. Today I fear that the loudest voices proclaiming that there is a war on Christmas are more concerned with the Christmas Snoopy was celebrating than the one Linus talked about. BTW if you don’t know what I’m talking about seriously you need to watch a Charlie Brown Christmas today!
Recently I came across an article and a couple of points hit home. First it stated if you are bothered by all the secular expressions posted around malls and big box stores this season, might i gently suggest that you spend less of your Christmas season at the freakin mall? If you don’t like the signage, spend more time serving the poor, going to worship, getting out in nature, and spending time with the people you love. Second, and this one couldn’t be more true, when you get right down to it, the best way to “keep Christ in Christmas” is to model Christlike behavior. Jesus was for feeding people. Jesus was for healing and compassion. Jesus was for getting a bunch of loud, messy, mismatched people around a table and having a big dinner. It really got me thinking how many people who scream about not having a Christmas tree at the mall or in front of City Hall will spend even one second this Christmas season giving to those less fortunate than them, volunteering at a local hospital, nursing home or soup kitchen. How many will walk pass the homeless person in the street, roll their eyes and judge them.
To say you are a Christian and a follower of Jesus is easy. To get irate because your local mall doesn’t have a Christmas tree is easy. To actually live your life in the matter Jesus did, you know the guy whose birth is the reason for all the hoopla in the first place is hard. Few of us can say we do myself included. We’ll stand on line Black Friday we’ll fire up the computers on cyber Monday. We’ll buy and we’ll buy and large corporations will get richer and richer while slashing wages, holding down health care and reducing the paid vacation and sick leave days for their employees. Employees whose main worry isn’t if there is a Christmas tree in the store or if someone wished them a happy holiday rather than a Merry Christmas but if they’ll be able to pay the rent and still have enough left over to put food on the table for their families. I’m not naive I know there is no going back, that the commercialization of Christmas is a lost cause and in reality there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with buying gifts for your loved ones this holiday, wait did I just say a bad word, as long as we don’t forget the true meaning of the day. Which I fear unless you have your own version of Linus around many of us have surely done.
We come to this Christmas day with dark clouds swirling all around us, divided as a people, hatred seemingly waiting around every corner. But we also come to this day with the power to summon the true meaning of the season from with-in each of our hearts. So let us not dwell on the painful times behind us but rather let us use them as a turning point to joyous times ahead. Let us bring forth the spirit of love, peace and hope and look to our neighbors whomever they may be and wish them good tidings of great joy and peace on earth. Because after all that’s what Christmas is all about.