This is easily my favorite time of the year. I love Christmas time and I was fortunate to grow up in a family that really stressed not just the spiritual importance of Christmas, but also the fun! As a kid I loved decorating our tree, listening to Christmas music, and driving around and seeing our neighbors’ houses all decorated as well. I am even luckier now that I am married to someone who decorates for Christmas like no one I have even met! If you want a Christmas experience just come by our place this season! Marti loves decorating and she has made our home a special place again this year. It really is beautiful.
This is just one of the very many reasons why I find the whole “war on Christmas” pseudo-outrage so humorous. I mean, there is an entire channel – Freeform – which is devoted to airing Christmas shows the whole month of December, not to mention the radio stations playing Christmas songs all season.
Of course, there isn’t a war on Christmas, but if you can claim someone is out to get you then you can also claim that you are a victim of cultural or even religious persecution – something Christian Nationalist groups love to do. And if some mysterious, coordinated conglomerate of groups are persecuting you, then you can justify responding through intimidation and bullying – which is also what Christian Nationalist groups love to do. However, what those who scream about a war on Christmas often forget is that our faith is founded on someone who actually experienced real persecution.
It is a good thing to remember that God chose to reveal God’s self through the life of a baby, born to a poor, ordinary family, in a country that was occupied by a hostile, foreign power in a precarious time. How precarious?
When King Herod heard [of the birth of Jesus], he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him, and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea for so it has been written by the prophet, ‘
And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah,
For from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people.’
Then Herod secretly called for the magi and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out, and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen in the east, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary, his mother, and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”
When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the magi. Then what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
“A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.” (Matthew 2:3-18)
Yet, Jesus did not spend his life complaining about Starbucks taking “Merry Christmas” off of their coffee cups. He did not become infuriated at store employees who said “Happy Holidays” upon greeting people. It’s ridiculous to even contemplate such behavior. Jesus was born in vulnerability and obscurity and lived his life not seeking power and fame, and certainly not revenge. He lived his life loving and serving others.
Perhaps the only war on Christmas that is happening is found among those who complain the loudest about it and who fundraise off of it. Let us live as Jesus did.