Keeping Love in Christmas
I have heard distant rumblings of war. According to my Facebook feed, there are a number of wars going on—the war on women, the war on marijuana, and the war on Christmas. In fact, it would seem that every time an ideological disagreement pops up, it gets couched in terms of war. The problem with this, of course, is that when everything is a war nothing is a war. So when a really big problem actually does crops up, everyone yawns with a, “Ho, hum,” or runs to take selfies at the local hostage situation. My own solution has been to check out. (You should try it sometime. It’s quite refreshing.) I no longer watch the news or listen to radio programs. There’s always someone out there inciting the rabble to rouse. The important stuff will get to me whether I watch the news or not, sans sensationalism…I hope.
However, about this time of year, it’s almost impossible to avoid the strident proclamations about how there’s a war on against Christmas. Is there really an attack on Christmas going on? I honestly don’t know. I’ve heard the varying reports about the billboards going up—a few grinchy atheists out there doing their Scrooge-like duties, killing joy as a matter of conscience. But frankly, I enjoy Christmas as much as I ever have. What I have noticed is how Christians tend to get so dreadfully defensive about it all. I know you’ve seen the statuses on Facebook, “Like this if you believe in keeping ‘Christ’ in ‘Christmas’!” Or you might see a beautiful graphic of a manger scene with words like this underneath, “I believe in the true meaning of Christmas. Like and share if you agree. 99.9992839% will just keep scrolling. Let’s see if we can turn it around.” We’re all trying so hard! I suspect we’re mostly making mountains out of molehills. However, let’s assume that there really is a concerted, unified effort from every atheist and skeptic in the United States to eradicate the religious significance of Christmas from public discourse. What should our response be?
Not angry posturing. Not comment debates. Not making a point to say, “Merry Christmas. Did you get that? Merry CHRIST-mas! That’s what I believe.” Just love. I was thinking about this the other day in connection to one of my favorite Christmas carols, words by Christina G. Rosetti. They go like this:
Love came down at Christmas
Love all lovely, love divine
Love was born at Christmas
Star and angels gave the sign.
Worship we the Godhead
Love incarnate, love divine
Worship we our Jesus
But wherewith for sacred sign?
Love shall be our token
Love be yours and love be mine
Love to God and all men
Love for plea and gift and sign.
That love came down as a baby to a poor Jewish family in the midst of a chaotic, sinful world is what makes Christmas so dear to our hearts. How silly of us, then, to run out, fists flying, at any remark to the contrary. I would suggest that the way we love at Christmastime and all year-round is far more important than whether some folks successfully put up a billboard denying the incarnation. Is there any need to run out and mount a billboard campaign in response? Well, I’ll leave that up to you, but I can think of better uses for money. If you decide to do something along those lines, the question you should ask yourself is, “Am I doing this out of love or to win an argument?”
In the end, love should flow out of us because we are Christ’s, and Christ is love. It can manifest itself in all kinds of ways. One of the biggest is simply loving the truth of the incarnation, letting it sink down inside and thinking about what it means for us. What is this truth? It is that Christ came down from his exalted place in Heaven and suffered all the indignity of human frailty so that he could live a sinless life, die, and rise again from the dead, securing eternal fellowship with our God for anyone who will believe. Love doesn’t mean we don’t speak. It just means that our motivations for speaking are pure. Its purpose is not to prove a point or get our jab in, it is to speak the truth because we love our savior and he commands us to speak.
If we get on our social media profiles and do our duties by Christmas only to show everyone that we’re “keeping Christ in Christmas no matter what those dumb PC-obsessed people say,” than we will have failed. But if we declare the truth about our beautiful savior with hearts full of love and gratitude to him than we’ve won. It’s that simple. Love must be our token. Love be yours. Love be mine. Merry Christmas!
Photo courtesy of Bert Kaufmann.