My Own War at Christmas

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My Own War at Christmas

Those of us who were raised in the Church know the narrative of Christmas, the story of Christ and his life and ministry forwards and backwards.  It’s often brought up in teachings, studies and sermons that so many of the people who lived in the same day and age as Jesus missed the boat on who Jesus was and why He came.

“If the innkeeper had only known!”

“The disciples just didn’t understand Jesus yet…”

“The people were looking for a new governing power, something or someone to change their outside circumstances but that’s not why Jesus came!”

We shake our heads. We can’t believe they missed it.  We wonder: “Mary, did you know?” because it seems so obvious when we have the account of the life and words of Christ in front of us in black and white and red.

It’s true!  People in Jesus’ day were often so busy looking for what they thought the Messiah should look like, they couldn’t see the real thing when it was right in front of them.   We’d like to think that we get it.

And yet, 2000 years later, I’m not sure much has changed.

It could be said that we don’t really get Jesus when we gripe about “The War on Christmas.”  We get in a flap and write articles, and post blogs and memes about the grievous sin and tragedy of holiday trees, red cups, and the demise of the creche at city hall. We comment our hearty Amen, good word, so true!  and re-post on how we’re not going to let “them” take our sweet baby Jesus away.

I get it! I’ve been there!  It’s nice when everyone around us agrees with the things that we find meaningful and help us celebrate the reason for the season without even trying. It’s lovely when our tax dollars at work include a town-square nativity funded by everyone.  But when the culture around us doesn’t follow our narrative or decides to remove our meaningful symbols and we take up arms, declare a war on Christmas, and cry “persecution!” Perhaps we’re missing it too?

It’s as though we think Christ could somehow be kept out of Christmas! He can’t be stricken from our hearts and lives by the State removing traditional words and phrases from their lectionary and laws. Non-Christian organizations wishing us a “Happy Holidays” won’t make our God any less present…any less near.  Shaming those who aren’t in a tizzy over The War on Christmas or treating store clerks like the enemies of our faith has never done anything to advance to the cause of Christ.

We’ve made the mistake of letting the symbols of our faith become more sacred than the object of our faith: Jesus and His unconditional love.  It’s not like Christmas carols were sung around the manger and Mary and Joseph set up a Christmas tree to celebrate the birth of the Savior while they shared extra-hot-half-sweet eggnog lattes with the shepherds. We know that’s not what really happened, right?

We need to lay down our weapons of indignation and start to fall in love again with the world that Jesus came to save.

Let’s back away from the tree, put down our coffee cups and relax. Let’s turn away from the fear and the scarcity mentality that feeds this beast. And, for the love – could we stop posting memes and diatribes that shame people for de-Christmatizing our world around us? Just, I don’t know, cue the music and – let it go.

Christians, we don’t need to wring our hands over this.  We really don’t. Jesus has said He will build His church- His Kingdom will come and His will WILL be done.  We need to trust that is true. Jesus isn’t fighting a war on Christmas – He’s secure in His position over heaven and earth, and I think we should reflect His posture whenever possible.

Jesus didn’t come to set up a constitutional monarchy, or a republic, or whatever your favorite form of government is.  The Kingdom of God was never meant to come through might or legislation or external transformation. If that were the plan, then Jesus would’ve come as the political ruler the Pharisees of the day were looking for.  But, as was prophesied, He came as Immanuel- God With Us. God was with us at His birth in Bethlehem, He’s with us now, and He’ll be with us for all eternity!

When our churches and homes become communities that espouse grace, love, peace, joy and refuge to ANY and ALL people, His Kingdom Comes. When we start to love the world as He did, His will is done on earth as it is in heaven. The advent of His Kingdom was a manger in a backwater town among a group of social outcasts. We declare that now-and-future Kingdom everyday when our hearts align with our gracious Savior.

Here’s the fight I think is worth fighting: to war with myself and rid my heart and life of beliefs and habits that grow selfishness, self-righteousness, self-centeredness and self-pity.  I must fight to make room for beliefs and habits that grow the extravagant love of Jesus within me. I fight well to remember that God is in a good mood.  The battles are won when I stop living like God’s constantly having a holy conniption because I’m not controlling others well enough.  Fits are just not the way of Jesus.

He believes that we can bring the good news of His Kingdom here and now. Our job is to love the world like Jesus did.  We go first.  We behave in loving ways toward the people He loves so much…the people He lived and died for, and remember-  that’s everyone. We’ll beat the weary world’s swords into plowshares through mercy, justice and grace not Christmas trees, beverage containers and roadside nativities.

This Kingdom work, loving others like Jesus does and building welcoming, grace based communities…it’s happening all around us! Jesus declared that it would. Let’s get on board with that mission.  Let’s allow the grace of God do it’s work in us.  If building that Kingdom includes a Christmas tree in your local mall this time of year- how fun! But if it doesn’t, let’s make sure we war against the right things.

Otherwise,  we’re just like those who lived and breathed with Jesus and failed to understand His true purpose.

Let’s not miss it.


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