Yesterday I found myself in the middle of a cultural discussion about Christmas.
For some say that there is a war on Christmas happening right now. As our culture desires to be less expressive about the Christian roots behind the celebration of the season, many hear “Happy Holidays!” as a concession that “God is not welcome here anymore.”
Another side accepts that culture is free to deny Christ is the reason for the season and that secularization isn’t a big deal. That Christians themselves aren’t under any persecution because of Christmas; this is really a question of living in a world with different views and that people of faith shouldn’t expect the world to mirror our beliefs.
I see both sides. We should be aware and be prepared to respond to a world that is becoming more and more ignorant (re: ignoring of) of God’s Story. As a parent, I sort of see it like this: It’s been more than 2,000 years since Jesus promised to return and though I feel like that time is near, the world has grown impatient. With my young kids, impatience can quickly turn into rebellion. Try leaving your kids in a doctor’s office waiting room for 10 minutes. They can quickly start to believe that you’re not coming back and begin to reek all kinds of havoc.
So it is today. The world has lost sight of God’s Story of promise and has begun to believe that He’s not ever coming back and probably that He isn’t really there.
The Christmas season should be a time when our faith in the coming of the Lord is refreshed. This is the heart behind the four weeks that we call “The Advent.” Advent, essentially means “Coming,” and so this is a time when we should look to be blessed with a fresh filling of anticipation for the coming of the Lord.
And as someone who holds to the One True Story that is God’s Word, I believe that the presence and purpose of God are inescapable. Run and hide and deny as much as we like, the reality is that God is real and the Story of our creation, our fall away from Him and the invitation to restoration in Christ are as true as anything we depend on.
So can the mysterious “they” take Christ out of Christmas? How should the people who Know God’s Story, live out our faith in a culture that grown impatient with the Lord’s promises?
Last year, I listened carefully to the sometimes dreaded generic greeting, “Happy Holidays!” As a former broadcast script writer, I’d definitely used it countless times in public spaces. But I noticed something in it that I never had before…
“Holidays” is a contraction, like “don’t” (do not), “isn’t” (is not) or ain’t (aye… not?).
Holidays = HolyDays.
So when “they” wish us a “Happy Holidays,” there remains that inescapable longing that we would be blessed with joy as we experience the extraordinary blessing of God’s presence as we prepare our hearts to celebrate the birth of the Hope of the World.
Give it a try right now. Say, “Happy HolyDays!” You might sound a bit Swedish at first, but then it feels right.
I love now going around to HEB or my bank and seeing their faces as the blessing of a “Happy HolyDays!” touches their core that longs to know God as they are intended.
So to you… as you prepare yourself and your family for Christmas (the coming of Christ), may you experience the gifts of peace, joy, love and hope. Happy HolyDays to you.