Summary: Instead of putting Christ into Christmas, maybe we should take him out of what Christmas has become in our culture.

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Let’s Take Christ Out of Xmas”

Luke 2:1-20

December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve

I am going to go out of my way to be provocative tonight. You see, I believe that we should take Christ out of Christmas. I believe that there is no place for Christ in Christmas. We ought to put aside all the foolishness and take him out of our celebrations. I hope that you won’t walk out on me, but give me a few minutes to explain myself. Maybe I’m not as provocative as I think I am.

There is a war going on in the United States. I’m not talking about Afghanistan. I’m not talking about Iraq. I’m not talking about the war on terror. I am talking about the war over Christmas.

It started really big last year when one of the big department stores (was it Target orWalMart? I don’t remember which) told their employees to wish shoppers “happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Suddenly, it seemed that we realized that there was a huge left-wing conspiracy afoot to rob us of Christmas and replace it with something bland and non-committal called “the holidays.”

I remember even President and Mrs. Bush got caught up in the controversy when the White House Christmas cards wished everybody “Happy Holidays.” Now, getting a Christmas card from the White House is a big deal, but there were some people who threw them in the trash because they were offended.

In defense of the president and his staff (I know that he doesn’t need my defense, but I also know that fewer and fewer people will defend him on anything anymore) they realized, correctly in my opinion, that there are people who receive those cards who are not Christian. Jews and Muslims also receive them. So as not to offend or be rude, the greeting was just for happy holidays.

Now I know that you may disagree with me on this point, but here’s how I see it. For example, it would be rude for someone to send me a card celebrating Kwanza. That is a celebration which is uniquely African-American focusing on values such as family, community responsibility, commerce, and self-improvement. Since I am not African-American, wishing me a happy Kwanza would make no sense.

In the same way, Jews would not send me a “Happy Hanukkah” card. Muslims would not wish me a “Happy Ramadan.”

But the war over Christmas continues. Tim Wildmon, who is head of the American Family Association, tried to organize a consumer boycott of Target stores because they didn’t use the word “Christmas” in their advertising. There are thousands of lawyers who have volunteered to sue any city or town that keeps nativity scenes out of their public displays.

There are thousands of school teachers who are ready and willing to report any principal who refuses to let the children sing “Silent Night” or other Christmas carols.

A woman named Jennifer Geroux founded an organization called “Operation: Just say Merry Christmas” which has started selling green wristbands with their rallying cry printed on it.

A few weeks ago, Toni and I went out to the St. Joe Christmas Tree Farm to bring home our tree for this year. Some sellers of evergreen trees have taken to calling them “holiday trees.” I read of one grower in California who said that he doesn’t care what they call them, as long as people buy them.

Once again this year, the battle has been pitched. Even our own District Superintendent has joined in. When he spoke to us at the District Christmas party, he mentioned that when a clerk at a store wishes him a “Happy Holidays” he answers back, “And I hope you have a Merry Christmas!”

One commentator on Fox News has written a book titled, “The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Holiday is Worse than You Thought.”

Merry Christmas indeed! It seems to me that Christmas has become just another battle in the culture wars that rage within the United States. In the midst of all the battles, I look for a little peace on earth, and have trouble spotting it.

I am indebted to a preaching journal to which I subscribe (Homiletics) for some of these insights that helped me put all of this into perspective. This journal suggests, as it reflects on how to preach today, that the war on Christmas probably is based on faulty intelligence. For example, how many times have we heard this battle cry? “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.”

I guess that I would ask you to reflect on that statement in light of what the Christmas season has become. During the month of December, Americans engage in a genuine orgy of spending. When the credit card bills start to arrive in January, many of us will realize the extent to which we have overspent. Think about that for a minute. Is Jesus the reason for us to enter into this crushing debt?

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