Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

December 20, 2013

War on Christmas?

Effingham Daily News

---- — I really love Christmastime. I love almost everything about it — the music, the decorations, the traditions, the shopping, the television specials, the parties, the food, the giving and receiving of gifts, the lights. l love the special church services. They are so joyous, giving us a great feeling and welcome relief from the business and heaviness of life.

But mostly, l simply love Christmastime, because I cannot get over the fact that our God chose to come off His lofty throne and live with us, teach us how to live, show us exactly how to treat one another, die for us, and then save us all from our own worst selves. Wow, what a powerful Christmas message that is!

What then is all this that l am hearing about a war on Christmas? l can’t seem to pick up a newspaper or hear the evening news or read my RSS feeds on the Internet where someone isn’t complaining about this all-out war on Christmas. l’m not seeing it. I still see the lights and hear the music, people still greet me warmly, gifts are still exchanged, cookies are still baked, parties are still attended, and church is still as vibrant and meaningful as ever. What is this war all about? The best that l can tell is this: The war on Christmas has to do with clerks at department stores saying, “Happy holidays.” The war on Christmas has to do with the Christmas tree being referred to as a “holiday tree.” The war on Christmas is the Christmas card being called a “holiday card.” The war on Christmas is the removal of the manger scenes from public courthouses and public schools.

Honestly? This is a war? Look, if all Christmas means to you is a greeting, then yes, maybe your Christmas is being disrupted. Or, if all Christmas means to you is a tree, then maybe you have something to be concerned about. And if Christmas is nothing more than some plastic figurines with 60-watt light bulbs inserted in their backsides, then yes, your Christmas may very well be in trouble. For those who wish to be distracted by a couple of news reporters or quasi-politicians trying to appear religious and trying to sell books, this may very well look like a war on Christmas.

That said, there is, actually, a real war on Christmas, but you rarely hear about it. You see, for the true Christian Christmas isn’t about a tree or a card or a greeting. lt’s about Christ. lt’s about God who came and lived among us fully God and fully human. This Christ of Christmas said to us, “l was hungry and you fed me.” Yet too many in the Church were silent when Congress cut food aid to the poor by $36 a month and yet voted to continue a tax break for the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans.

This Christ of Christmas said to us, “l was sick and you took care of me.” Yet too many in the Church of Jesus Christ sit on their hands while very well-insured billionaires are pouring their collective fortunes together in an attempt to shut down any attempt to bring health care access to all Americans. This Christ of Christmas has commanded us to love our enemies and said, “Blessed are the peacemakers” yet too many of us sound the battle cry over and over again for war and destruction and violence as our first and sometimes only option.

ls this war winnable? As long as the very embodiment of Christ Himself, His Church, is able to keep from being distracted by the superficial and the unimportant, then yes. Jesus Himself has guaranteed it. He knew that by our dedication and commitment, mingled with the power of the Holy Spirit, we would, as he said in Scripture, do even greater things than Him (John 14:12).

May we all have a very Merry and Blessed Christmas.

Kurt Simon is a Vandalia resident. Email him at editor@effinghamdailynews.com