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Merry Holidays... Happy Christmas... Wait... What?

Worcester (MA) Telegram & Gazette
It's no secret that I love Christmas. It seriously feels as though my entire year is one big countdown to December 25th. Even though our daughter was born in the middle of summer, we gave her a name that reminds us of one of our favorite holiday periods. Christmas is just amazing. I found out today that there is a huge chance we will have a green Christmas. I think green Christmases are a tragedy of the highest caliber. Man, when I wake up Christmas morning (usually around 5:45am), I want snow - not even a "light dusting" as some wish, I want snow. I'm talking so much snow that it's dangerous to drive to my family reunions. I'm talking, back breaking, snow shoveling, Santa barely made it to your house because of white out conditions snow. Almost nothing can ever stop me from loving it - not the old lady who rammed me with her shopping cart because I slowed down to talk to a Salvation Army kettle volunteer, not the shoppers who push and complain, not the endless sea of negative facebook comments from the perpetual winter racists, nothing! There is however, one little thing that dampens the holiday spirit.

Every year, Christ-followers, including myself, seem to get sidetracked. Yes, we all know that commercialism is rampent in our society - I know my credit cards and bank accounts usually take a hammering this time of the year. We know deep down that Christmas isn't about presents, or spending, or new gadgets, but about community, friendship, and God's great gift of salvation. I don't know about you, but this year I have tried to tone down the spending - after all, I live like a sultan compared to the rest of the world. I think we all know what needs to be done - we need to stop focusing on ourselves, focus on others, and help the needy. Christmas is after all, a celebration of Jesus Christ, and the last time I read the gospels, selfishness is sort of well, lambasted by the Lord. If we're going to have a birthday party for Christ, we should at least honour his message.

But that's not what is really bothering me this year.

Every year Christ-followers are insulted and outraged by two simple words: Happy Holidays. Listen, I would be flat out lying to you if I said I don't understand the frustration. Anyone who is ignorant of the cultural shift to disconnect Christian icons and traditions from December 25th must be disconnected from culture itself. I heard on the radio this week people being asked whether people should say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. A large majority of the people expressed that people should not say Merry Christmas as to not offend anyone who is not a Christian. This of course, is very confusing for anyone who understands the basic message of Christmas - that God, through Jesus Christ desires to establish peace on earth and goodwill towards mankind. I mean, lets give Jesus some credit - even the most hardened skeptic should admit that no other man in history has had more of an impact on humanity, can't we simply wish people a "Merry Christmas" without fear of judgement ? I mean, replace the words Christmas with "peace on earth" or "goodwill towards mankind" - what is even remotely offensive about that? Then of course, there is the ethical problem in limiting the most basic of human rights - human speech, censorship just makes people angry.

So yes, I get it. It's annoying. Christmas has been celebrated for decades and decades.... But I think we need to take a step back, relax, and think about our frustration for a moment.

Jesus Christ invaded human history, he loved the sick, the poor and the destitute. He arrived in the most humble of places, to bring hope to the hopeless. He is God with us! He is salvation, peace, joy, and forgiveness. He is the most astounded philosopher, simply the greatest and supreme man to ever walk the face of the earth... And we, as his followers, are outraged when someone says "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas"... ?

Something isn't adding up here.

You know what, maybe corporations are disconnecting Christ from Christmas, but last I checked, the last place you would find Christ is in some advertising campaign, or in a greeting card, or even on the lawn of city governments... For...
The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, 'Look, here it is!' or 'There!' for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” (Luke 17)
Do you want to see Christ this Christmas? See him in the receiving end of an act of love. See him in the joy of family and friendship. See him when you share your time and money, not on yourself, but with the hurting and needy. How about we stop getting all hung up when we don't see Christ on a greeting card, or in a mall - because guess what? He wasn't there to begin with.

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