As Christmas week approaches, it’s time for the annual hand wringing about “taking Christ out of Christmas.” Self-righteous Christians will cast an angry glance at salesclerks who dare to wish them a “Happy Holiday,” while the usual lineup of “Christian-ish” politicians and commentators will deride the secular culture.
Puh-leeze. Whatever holiday you think you are celebrating while jockeying for a doorbuster television at the crack of dawn, it ain’t Christmas.
If you are offended by “Happy Holidays,” I’d be glad instead to wish you a happy “give-yourself-a-present day,” or a merry “buy-your-kids-better-stuff-than-the-other-kids day.” But please do not expect me to wish you a Merry Christmas when what you are celebrating is all about you and yours.
You honestly want to put Christ Back in Christmas? Here is the recipe:
1) Stop buying stuff for yourself – it is not YOUR birthday!
2) Stop buying stuff for your friends and family – it is not THEIR birthday either.
3) Ask the guy whose birthday you are celebrating, what He wants and go get that.
4) Fortunately, He left us a handy list of the gifts He wants, so here is your shopping list:
· Give your money to the poor in his name
· Comfort the sick and visit those in prison
· Welcome the stranger and love the immigrant
· Help those in need
· Love those who hate you
· Forgive those who have wronged you
· Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind
If you start actually celebrating Christmas during the holidays you will discover that it is amazingly stress-free. You won’t be stuck waiting in line on Black Friday. Trust me, there won’t be a huge traffic jam at the homeless shelter the day after Thanksgiving. Nor will there be a crush of people waiting at the refugee camp. You won’t need to circle for hours to find a parking spot at the hospital. You won’t need to snag the Gold Box deal to forgive someone who hates you. Love is always free, no coupon code required.
Do you want people to start wishing you a Merry Christmas? If you actually do any of the above, I promise, you will hear more and heartier “Merry Christmas” wishes than you can count.
Otherwise, remember that it was you who took Christ out of Christmas. So, stop complaining when people wish you a “happy spend-more-than-you-can-afford-day,” or “happy holidays” for short.
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If you or your church is looking for a better way to celebrate Christmas, check out The Advent Conspiracy.