I said a dirty word yesterday. I didn’t mean to, it just kind of spilled out. I felt immediate remorse and looked around to make sure no one heard me, but I’m sure someone did. I imagine them discussing it today over coffee with friends. I see them shaking their heads in disappointment and saying things like “what’s this world coming to when a preacher talks like that?” The word was the H word. You know what I’m talking about. It’s the word that no Christian is allowed to say, especially around this time of the year. I’ll print it here but only so I can tell my story. The word is “holiday.”
It all happened rather innocently. I walked into a store yesterday to do some shopping and the cheery clerk said “Happy Holidays!” Before I knew what had happened I’d repeated the offensive greeting and said “Happy Holidays to you as well.” I immediately realized my mistake but it was too late. I scanned the store to make sure there were no other believers present. I feared that some Christian might turn red-faced and accuse me of caving to the culture and taking “Christ” out of Christmas.
I hope by now you’re reading a little bit of sarcasm in the above lines (OK, maybe a lot of sarcasm). Since when did the word “holidays” become so bad? Why are Christians calling into radio talk shows and decrying the “war against Christmas?” And while I’m asking questions, who started this “war?” Our culture or overly-sensitive believers? Of course, if you’re offended by the word holiday then you’re probably being offended by me now. I apologize. I really do appreciate your desire to stand up for your beliefs. I’m just not sure that the “war on Christmas” is a war we need to be fighting. We do need to live out our beliefs and be unashamed of our faith, but that doesn’t involve forcing everyone to celebrate the things we celebrate or use the language we use.
If we want to make Christ the focus of Christmas (which I do) then I there’s a better way to do it then suing governments over nativity displays and ranting about catalogs and commercials. The way to do it is simply by living it. If you want to put a nativity display in your front yard then do it. If you want to say “merry Christmas” then do it. If you want to tell people that “Jesus is the reason for the season” then do it. But don’t insist that everyone do the same. Jesus didn’t enter the first Christmas with shouts and demands that all the world celebrate. He entered it quietly and unobtrusively. Only a handful of people knew the story. And as the years went on those few told a few more, and those few told a few more, and so on. The story of Christmas wasn’t spread through force or protest. It was spread person to person and story to story. So tell the story and let God handle the rest.