I am officially a pacifist on the “war on Christmas”. I would, however, support a ceasefire on Christmas if it banned all commercial displays until Thanksgiving. I say “Merry Christmas” whenever I want to and to whomever I desire. And while there is a small percentage that would like all vestiges of the Christmas story purged from any public display that percentage is very, very small. This war is not worth it. The collateral damage to the Christian message of love and joy suffers far more than we can imagine from this cultural war. I know that many think I have been drinking way too much grace punch. Probably true. It’s really good stuff.
But the fact is that in America Christmas has become much more of an economic than a religious holiday. There are so many icons like Santa Claus and Rudolph and the Grinch that are not at all related to the religious aspect of the holiday. From the generic holiday proponents I find it hard to comprehend the argument that a nativity scene or a Merry Christmas sign is all that spiritually persuasive in this mindboggling landscape of holiday icons.
I find it interesting that one of the most powerful reminders of the message of Christmas comes from the genius of the late Charles Schultz. His classic show A Charlie Brown Christmas has a simple, elegant and classic scene. Charlie Brown has failed miserably in his attempt to find the true meaning of Christmas. But then Linus recites the following passage from the King James version of the Bible.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
And then Linus says to Charlie Brown, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
That is what I believe Christmas is all about. I am willing to engage in civil conversation about religion in the public square. I know from years of writing these humble ramblings that many who don’t share my views can say some pretty unkind things about my intellect. The atheists can be pretty nasty too. Nonetheless I will treat those who oppose me with grace and charity. I choose to take the message to shepherds to heart today.
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
A Charlie Brown Christmas airs Thursday, December 15th on ABC (one of those evil secular networks by the way). How about using some of your energy to let ABC know you appreciate the network airing this show? Maybe that is also what Christmas is all about. Spreading a little kindness instead of anger. Could that possibly work?