The holiday season is upon us! It’s that time of year when… all hell breaks loose.
Seriously though, as we all are prepping our turkeys and getting our shopping lists together this week, we know we’re slowly chugging up the first hill of the rollercoaster that will be the next two months. That first drop is coming – and then it’s time to hold tight or throw our arms in the air until the crazy is over.
Something that also accompanies this time of year is the inevitable debate over which greeting is appropriate for the season. So, let’s put this in perspective:
Between Thanksgiving and Epiphany (January 6), there are approximately 45 different holidays celebrated by cultures and religions around the world. Over twenty of them are Christian holidays, from various branches of our tradition. So if you are a Christian, saying Happy Holidays is extremely appropriate, even within our own brethren.
On a related note, this past week I was asked by someone about the relationship between Christianity and other religions, particularly the Jewish faith.
Let me say this clearly, Christians are grafted into the Jewish tree, not the other way around. Those are Jesus’ own words.
What is more, we know that God is bigger than any box into which we can put God.
So why would we assume we have all the answers? Why would we demean people of faith who are kind, gracious, and faithful – because we think God is not capable of getting to them through another religion? If that we true, that would mean that we do not serve an all-powerful God.
But we do serve an all-powerful, all-knowing, always-present God of love. We should not be so arrogant as to think we have any say into who is “in” and who is “out” in God’s eyes. It is our job to love everyone – no matter what.
So let’s talk about what it looks like to live into Christmas in a way that will honor Christ.
Contrary to popular belief, that does not mean only uttering “Merry Christmas” to anyone we meet. It does not mean worshipping God in sanctuaries while ignoring, belittling, or demeaning humans the other 167 hours each week. It does not mean shoving the word “Christ” down everyone’s throat.
Steve Maraboli has an excellent reflection on what we, who would follow Christ, are called to do this holiday season:
“Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.”
If we want to put Christ back into Christmas, we must focus on shining the light of God’s love that broke into the night on Christmas Eve two thousand years ago. We must shine that light into a world that lives in constant shadow. We must live into what Christ said and did. We must honor those whom God has always chosen to honor – the poor, the forgotten, the outcast, the orphan, the widow, the foreigner, the refugee, the grieving, the hungry, the young, the old, and everyone else that the world intentionally cuts off for any reason.
So yes, put Christ back in Christmas this year. Learn the humility of those who would do justice, love kindness, and walk with God. And proclaim Happy Holidays to everyone you meet – because it is not our job to judge or decide what celebration is worthy.
It is ours to love. Period.