Sometimes I feel like there are really two Christmases. There is the Christmas that drives our nation’s economy. It gives us “Black Friday,” where retail stores turn red bottom lines into black ones. It gives us a myriad of commercials, jobs, advertisements, tie-ins, door-busters, and TV specials. It focuses on, at best, the joy of giving and gathering with family. It focuses, at worst, on consumerism, materialism, and the illusion that stuff=happiness. This is the Christmas that the vast majority of Americans celebrate, and it is only superficially linked to the birth of a Nazarene boy that would defend the widows and children, stand up to religious hypocrisy, break down man-made barriers, challenge the status quo of the powerful, and become the Savior of the world. It is an important part of our culture, and it is not going anywhere.
Then there is the other Christmas. It is the Christmas that celebrates a child. It celebrates the moment when God became flesh. It celebrates the God that became a man so that we may know how to love. This Christmas is about Jesus. It is a reminder that Jesus came to change and save the world. Jesus was anointed by God to…
“Proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’” (Luke 4:18)
For many, the desire to “Keep Christ in Christmas” is a backlash against the first Christmas I described. They see that in many ways Christ has been removed from Christmas celebrations, and they mourn that. I understand, but I think getting upset over someone saying “Happy Holidays,” or not finding a baby Jesus in a public park is misguided. If you’re looking for Jesus in the secular, cultural Christmas, then you’re looking in the wrong place. In the past, I’ve written some pretty angry and pointed posts about this subject. I don’t feel like being angry anymore.
Instead, I offer this suggestion. The only way to keep Christ in Christmas is to be Christ in Christmas. If you want to find Christ this Christmas, you can still find him. If you think someone can take Christ out of Christmas by removing a statue from a park, then I think you underestimate the power of Jesus Christ. No one can take Christ out of Christmas where the people of God are being the body of Christ.
If you want to keep Christ in Christmas, then spend as much money on others in need as you do on your family for gifts. Work for justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly with your God. Love your neighbors. Love your enemies. Forgive.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief offers a few suggestions, and resources to actually get it done. I’d love to find out more ways that you are going to #BeChristInChristmas. I would love to see this hashtag become active on twitter. Share ways that you are being the body of Christ. Are you volunteering at a homeless shelter? Donating to a clothes closet or food pantry? Are you sharing your gifts and blessings so that other may be blessed? Share it. Tweet it. Do more than wish someone Merry Christmas. Be someone’s merry Christmas.
As Teresa Avila said, “Christ has no body but yours. No feet on earth, but yours.” So if you want to keep Christ in Christmas. #BeChristInChristmas.
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