Hey Seinfeld fans, do you remember the episode of the sitcom where you were introduced to ‘Festivus’? For the rest of you, Festivus was a new holiday created by cranky character Frank Castanza to replace the annoyance of Christmas – ‘Festivus for the rest of us!’ The climax of the new celebration was the ‘airing of grievances’ which was just another opportunity for him to tell people how annoyed or disappointed he was with them.
Well, there is now an airing of grievances all across the continent as political correctness has once again attacked our most sacred cultural institutions. Personally I understand both sides but people are outraged that the song Baby It’s Cold Outside is being left off radio station playlists and even that old, animated Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer program has been criticized. I mean, what’s next, criticizing Charlie Brown TV specials? Um, yes.
And once again there has been the annual surge of grievances from people reminding us that they are going to say Merry Christmas, not Happy Holidays and they don’t care what anybody thinks.
So say Merry Christmas.
But why the need to proclaim it over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again?
We actually are currently in a holiday season of various celebrations, including both Hanukkah and Advent; Christians don’t technically celebrate Christmas until the evening of December 24 (materialism has stretched it into a month-and-a-half marathon). Remind me again why wishing a joyful message to people is offensive?
My point is, why do we feel the need to be against so many things? Why is shared annoyance our go-to emotion? Frankly, the value of Christianity doesn’t rise and fall with whether we have trees, creches, Scrooges, carols, stockings-hung-by-the-chimney-with-care, or merry words.
Here are some thoughts for us to consider:
- We still have the freedom to say Merry Christmas and the vast majority of people around us still say it too.
- We live in a post-Christian culture (if it ever was) and that’s the fault of Christians, not anybody else. It is likely this very attitude of gnarly self-entitlement that has brought us here.
- Since when does complaining and growling change people’s minds or help them see the beauty of God? Helping others to know God IS important to us, right?
- What is missing inside of us that we use so much energy being negative? I thought Christianity was a good thing.
This post isn’t really about Merry Christmas, it’s about our instinct to criticize and finger point when we feel slighted. This is a human habit but one that Christians should be traveling in the opposite direction of.
Unfortunately poll after poll shows that evangelicals are known much more for what they are against than what they are for. The list is long but for example, I just read a PEW poll that 68% of (American) evangelicals say they don’t believe we have responsibility to take in refugees. Can you imagine Christians being more hostile to refugees than any other religious group despite explicit history and Scriptures to the contrary?
In the New Testament we don’t much see Jesus being against things but what we do see in contrast is his passion for people. He spoke truth with straight forward but gentle honesty and he was only able to do that because he was motivated by love and kindness. You will recall that Jesus didn’t ignore the immorality of the woman caught in adultery but loved her nevertheless and defended her against the outspoken, judgemental types who were attacking her.
Christianity is not about what we are against but who we are for. To be habitually against things only distances us from the very world we are called to care for. On the other hand, to be for people is to be close to the heart of the One who loves unconditionally.
Okay I confess, I usually say Merry Christmas, not because I’m angry at the world but because they are words that have fresh and life-giving meaning for me and I feel good about sharing them.
Christmas is the ultimate example of God skipping past all that he could complain about to humbly and joyfully proclaim that he is for you and me.
So before you grumble about things you are against, consider – who are you for?