Thursday, December 21, 2006

Is "Happy Holidays" a way of weakening Christmas... or does "Merry Christmas" do that?

Let me put it this way. Of all the people saying "Merry Christmas" this season, how many of them live their lives as followers of Christ and his teachings? I mean, sure, most of them probably know the story: angels singing, star and wise men, baby Jesus in the manger, tadah. Many of them may even self-identify as Christians. But what does it mean to them?

I am not going to claim the far end of the spectrum from the war-on-Christmas folks and say that only TRUE Christians should be saying "Merry Christmas." This is America after all, and "Merry Christmas" certainly doesn't violate the ideals of free speech, no matter who says it.

What do we, as Christians, mean when we wish each other "Merry Christmas?" Rarely is it "may you commmemorate the possibility of reunion with God." That's what Christmas was. Before the Messiah, connections with God were rare. Priests and prophets were on the inside track; most everybody else had to go through them. Even the priests had very particular ritual and ceremonial barriers that separated them from God. The prophets were often God's mouthpiece; rather than having personal fellowship, it was a job.

Like the eucharist, Christmas is an opportunity to remember what Christ made possible for us. I choose that phrase very specifically instead of "what he DID for us." Most Christians can run you through that story too: died on the cross, rose again, saved us from our sins. Yay. But that's not the point - there's a REASON for that whole sequence of events. Sin separated humans from God. Christ made it possible to regain the connection that God originally intended and still deeply desires.

From a religious perspective, Christmas is about THAT connection, not connecting with family or friends or giving materially to those in need. Those things are important, but they fall on the secular side of things. If you demonize "Happy Holidays," you're also slinging mud at that as well. So for goodness' sake, STOP IT!


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