My local radio station usually goes to their all-Christmas-music format on Thanksgiving day each year. But this year, after an alleged “influx” of requests, they chose to crank up the silver bells a week BEFORE Thanksgiving day. My first response: “Ugh.” I just wasn’t ready for all the merriment that comes along with this season. I’m not grumpy. At all. I just felt like it was too oddly early to start in with the Christmas music.
And speaking of Christmas music, I find that each year I’ve added another “please don’t play that Christmas song one more time or I’m going to throw myself from a moving vehicle” song to my short list of Christmas songs I just…well…abhor. Last year’s song was “Christmas Shoes”; a song that for me still triggers the dry heaves. Quick reminder: I’m not grumpy.
This year’s recipient of the “please don’t play that–” oh never mind. This year’s song is “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)”, originally performed by John Lennon. I know, I know. It’s a Christmas season staple. I know I’m messing with John Lennon and for some people that’s like messing with Jesus. I know how it must sound to say that I just can’t stand anything about it. I know. So anyway, congrats John, Yoko, and anyone else involved in birthing that “War is over if you want it” anthem. Congratulations on making the list.
I was just looking at a really funny blog post by Mark Oestreicher (starting to resemble a jolly ‘ol elf himself) highlighting the worst nativity sets. (By the way, my favorite has to be the Mexican Mermaid nativity set.) I found it hilarious and it made me think about the things we assume about Christmas that we really shouldn’t. That’s where this post springs to life…I hope.
First off, most (nearly all) nativity sets include the “wise men” or “magi”. And if it weren’t for the certainty of arrest, I’d be way more tempted to “correct” any nativity set I came across by removing the wise men from the manger/barn/cave scene. They simply weren’t there at or immediately after Jesus’ birth. (Matthew 2)
We also have quite a good time each year battling over public displays of “Christian” Christmas-themed decorations. From the swirling controversy hither and yon our country at various city halls, to the ever-popular reports of the president using the term “holiday tree” instead of “Christmas tree”. How dare he. I mean, when we all stand outside the gates of heaven waiting for our turn to go in, I’m certain Saint Peter will be there next to an evergreen tree and the one-question quiz for admission is going to be “What do you call this?” So you’d better be ready with the right answer.
Another paradox is our thankfulness/greediness reality. On one hand we’re thankful for what we have and love to say “Oh honey, I don’ t need anything this year. I have you and that’s all I’ve ever wanted”, but on the other hand if I don’t get that 80 inch LED flat screen–so help me–I’m going to probably burn that holiday tree to the ground in protest.
The last one just might get me thrown off some Christmas card lists. And that is the idea of celebrating Jesus birth at all. Nowhere in the Bible are we instructed to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Am I against Christmas? Am I against gifts? Trees? Decorations? Jingle bells? Egg nog? The colors red & green put side-by-side? Of course not! But let’s be honest: the Bible tells us to remember Jesus’ death and resurrection, not His birth. Now, I know that you’ve got to have the one before the other. I know that common sense says to laud His advent on earth as much as His ascent to heaven. And you won’t find me turning down even one invitation to any festivity that gathers people around the manger to reflect on the gift of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world; especially when food is involved.
That’s because I really do love Jesus. I love the prophecies spoken hundreds of years and then months before His coming. I love the events surrounding His birth. I love how we make a fuss about Christmas in every store window, in our homes, in our yards, on our roofs, and in our hearts. I love (most) Christmas music. I love to celebrate the baby who became the boy who became the man who has always been, is now, and will always be the Savior of the world.
Look for at least one other blog post regarding Christmas between now and December 25th, which has no evidence as being Jesus’ birthday.