OK, so it’s not Christmas. But I wrote something around Christmas time that didn’t get finished. I finished it the other day and thought that I would post it regardless. A month late, but for me that’s tantamount to early. It’s a rant anyway and you can save yourself some angst by ignoring it altogether. You’ve been warned.

A Facebook friend of mine posted this . A few weeks before Christmas. Actually, more than one did. Then a few days later another posted this  .

The lyrics of the song are:

If you don’t see merry Christmas in the window,
no you don’t go in that store
If you don’t see merry Christmas in the window,
yes you walk right by that door
Oh it’s all about the little baby Jesus and my Savior’s day of birth
It’s the one and only reason that we celebrate the season
wishing love to all and; peace upon the earth
If you don’t hear ‘Merry Christmas’ when they greet you
when you’re walking through store
Simply turn and say ‘It’s very nice to meet you’
As you walk right out that door
Words are chosen every year to hide it’s Christmas
the reason for our hol-i-day
They’re not happy what we’re singing
but they want their tills a’ringing
Trying to sell my Christmas every other way
come and stand out from the crowd,
say Merry Christmas and be proud
Christmas isn’t just another holiday
What would be missing, now lets see,
if not for Christ’s nativity
No silent night or first noels No Santa’s sleigh
No jingle bells
No star atop the Christmas tree
No special day for family
No bells that ring for angels wings
No dolls and trains that Santa brings
No drummer boy or Tiny Tim
No Mr. Scrooge, we all know him
No list of those whose been good or bad
Well maybe that won’t be too sad No candy canes or mistletoe
No Christmas lights out in the snow
No stockings hung with so much care
hoping Santa finds them there
And one more thing there wouldn’t be
no partridge in a rum pum pum pum
If you don’t believe the reasons for my Christmas
then it’s sure okay with me
Please don’t tell me what to say, or what music I can play
after all my Christmas is my special day
Come and stand out from the crowd,
say ‘Merry Christmas’ and be proud
Christmas isn’t just another holiday

Really.

So, did you boycott stores that did not say “Merry Christmas”? Did you write people saying that if they did not celebrate the coming of the Saviour of the world, into the world, that you would make sure they didn’t make as much money as they hoped to do? Did you march into their stores and tell them, with Christian charity oozing out your pores, that Christmas is the birth of the Saviour of the world and that if they won’t acknowledge that, then they shouldn’t get the business of people who do? And if you did do that did it make you feel like you had served the cause of the Gospel? Did it convince you that this is what it means to love God with all our hearts and our neigbours as ourselves? Did it help open them up to receiving the Gospel that we are commanded to give and without which the very people who do not celebrate Christmas never will?

How would boycotting a store that won’t say “Merry Christmas” show the world that we are followers of Jesus Christ? How would it make them want to be the same? Would we be happier if we had threatened to boycott and some merchant actually decided to take down his “Happy Holidays” sign and change it to “Merry Christmas”? And if doing that had actually increased the merchant’s business how do you think that would have changed his mind about the Gospel? If it had made his business lose money how do you think that would have changed his mind about the Gospel? If it increased his profits would it be a good thing for him to come to Jesus on the basis that it is good for business? Supposing, instead of boycotting the store, we went in and sought to find something that we could buy for a loved one? And what if, when we were being served, we said, “I am glad that you want people to have a happy holiday. People should be happy this time of year. Jesus came into the world to save people from their sins and there can nothing happier than that. That’s why we sing ‘Joy to the World’. I hope you have really happy holidays but I hope even more that you come to celebrate Christmas because you come to have faith in Jesus Christ.”

But that’s really hokey isn’t it? Not only hokey – it’s hard. And can’t we just picture the clerk rolling her eyes as she processes our purchase, hoping that we just shut up? It is easier to boycott. It is always easier to say what we are against than what we are for. Easier to make ourselves look holier and better than others. Easier to complain about how the culture has gone to hell and long for the good old days when people would say Merry Christmas without an inkling of worship or celebration of His birth or intention to acknowledge the reason for His coming. Easier to live in the midst of the rank hypocrisy of people who will say “Merry Christmas” without ever thinking what that means. Easier to blame others for the mess our society is in knowing that it might just be those “happy holidays” pagans. Personally, I would rather spend time with someone who meaningfully says “Happy Holidays” because he wants Christ out of a culture that has forgotten Him anyway, than with someone who says “Merry Christmas” to keep me happy and get my money as I turn the birth of Christ into a mega shopping spree.

I try to imagine the Apostle Paul going in to Ephesus, with its temple to Diana, insisting that the merchants, who make their living off selling silver idols of her, put up signs celebrating the work of Jesus on the cross. He might have been able to do it if he had thought of changing their product from idols to – oh, I don’t know – silver crosses, crucifixes, WWJD bracelets. And if they could be convinced that making such things would help counter the negative effects of losing the idol trade, they may just have gone along with it. But it wouldn’t have made the culture any more Christian. It wouldn’t have convinced anyone of their need for Jesus to save them from their sins. It would certainly tell them that this Jesus thing can be used to keep them in the black. Mission accomplished – except that it isn’t our mission. Our mission is to:

Keep [our] conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against [us] as evildoers, they may see [our] good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. (I Peter 2:12)

Well, it’s not Christmas anyway. But Christmas isn’t the only time of year that we can try to make cultural Christians out of people and make it less likely that they will ever be the real thing. Let’s be a people who, under the authority of Jesus Christ, go into the world and make disciples.

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