Most of you realize this, but just in case you missed it. We are in the midst of a battle. The Battle for Christmas. This battle has been raging for years or centuries depending on who is writing the story. I’ve been keeping track.
In the last 5-10 years, evidence of this battle has been documented by The American Family Association who, one year analyzed over 280 pages of advertising in a couple of Memphis area newspapers to find that Christmas was rarely mentioned. Rather than mentioning Christmas advertising substituted the term holiday 59x’s instead. In addition, I heard from the friend of an acquaintance that school bus drivers in Maine were banned from leading Christmas carols and in Illinois and you probably heard about the children at a school in Oregon who were allowed to bring Christmas cards to hand out to their friends as long as they don’t mention Jesus.
But don’t worry, the battle is not one sided. One year it was reported by an unnamed organization that at least 1,500 lawyers had volunteered to sue any town that tried to keep nativity scenes out of its holiday displays and about 8,000 public school teachers stood ready to report any principle who removed Silent Night from the choir program. A few years ago Jennifer Giroux, co-founded Operation: Just Say “Merry Christmas.” Her group produced red and green rubber wristbands, emblazoned with the slogan “Just say ‘Merry Christmas.” The campaign went viral and she ended up selling around 60,000 bracelets at $2 a pop. I’m guessing the profits went to finance the troops on the frontlines.
Then of course there was my favorite. In 2010, one of the largest “Baptist” churches in the country started the website, “Grinchalert.com” and encouraged their people to submit the names of local businesses that didn’t call the holiday Christmas. Those names were then put on the “naughty list.” Some question as to who the Grinch was though.
Sorry for the vague details and slight sarcasm…but it feels a little bit like young boys playing battlefield. On the other hand, let me be perfectly clear. I do believe that there is a battle for Christmas. I just don’t think the battle has much to do with Happy Holidays or Nativity Scenes filled with Santa’s displayed in public places.
When I think back to that first Christmas. “Merry Christmas” was not the greeting of choice. There were no Christmas Trees or Holiday Parties. No wreaths or nativity scenes — well except for one. But Jesus was not front and center in the public square. In fact hundreds of babies in Bethlehem were killed to keep Christ of Christmas. And yet nothing could keep Christ out of the world. And the Christmas spirit was so pure, so focused, so intense that it spread everywhere.
The battle for Christmas is the battle that distracts us from Christ with promises of much and many. It’s the battle that dulls our wonder and turns our gaze to the malls. It’s the battle between presents and presence. It’s the battle for the heart of the Gospel.
How do we win that battle? We seek Christ and we open our hands to risk more to make a difference in the world. We open our hearts and humbly echo the words of Mary, the mother of Jesus when the angel told her she would give birth to the Christ. She said, “Let it be to me as you have said.”
Join the One and make a difference in the world. That’s the battle of Christmas.