Wednesday, December 21, 2011


The following post does not necessarily reflect the views of the leadership, staff, and congregation of my church, nor of the conservative, Christian, evangelical community in whole and in part.

In other words, I'm about to "step in it."

I have no problems with the expression "Happy Holidays." And I really don't think a lot of people have a problem with "Merry Christmas" either. I do think, however, that by making these expressions the nexus of the so-called "war on Christmas," we are missing the entire point.

Why do people say "Happy Holidays?" While I'm sure someone has a sinister motive and I'm sure some (especially in the retail industry) have a desire not to offend potential customers, I think most people say "Happy Holidays" out of a sincere expression of peace and goodwill. In this increasingly hard-edged, selfish, and cynical society, it feels good to have someone take the time and wish me well. Why squelch that by rebuking the greeter?

Why do people say "Merry Christmas?" For me (and many Christians), it is a theological statement, a way of saying, "Let's celebrate the fact that God the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, came to earth as a baby, born of a biological virgin, lived a sinless life, died to pay the price for your sins and mine, and rose again on the third day, so that by trusting Him as your Lord and Savior, you can have everlasting life and a day to day relationship with Him, even as you look forward to His return!" For others, it's merely a nod to the "religious" nature of December 25. But I think a surprisingly large number of people say "Merry Christmas" for the same reason they say, "Happy Holidays": it's nice to say and it's nice to hear.

Puh-leese don't tag me with the label of "politically correct" (them's fightin' words, pard!). I think some of the things that schools, government institutions, and businesses do during December are silly and illogical. I don't know how many have nefarious motives, but a lot of them are just not thinking this through. Hanukkah is not the "Jewish Christmas." Thanksgiving and New Year are not Christmas. They put up all the decorations and trappings and lights of Christmas, then stick up a banner that says "Happy Holidays." As the governor of one state responded to the move to call the state "Christmas tree" a "Holiday Tree": "what other holidays celebrate using a decorated fir tree?" With prolonged use, the whole political correct thing collapses under its own weight.

But I think by insisting that folks utter "Merry Christmas", we are imposing a kind of "Christian political correctness" on the landscape. We gladly proclaim the "Reason for the season", but we must not forget that the Reason goes a lot deeper than a greeting. There is a war, but it's a war on Christ Himself, not just His birth. It's a war that is fought every single day in the hearts and minds of human beings. It is a war in which Jesus is the ultimate victor and in which one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11). And that is greater than any mere December greeting.

Happy Holidays
(yeah, I said it).

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