What Good Is Merry Christmas?

Once again I’ve been quite negligent in writing on this blog.  I don’t know why exactly, business, laziness, both–whatever.  However I have returned today with some thoughts on the so-called “war against Christmas”.  You know, the argument that everyone who says Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas is being banal or politically correct, or dissing Christianity, or something.

Well I had a thought about it this week.  I decided I am no longer bothered by people who say Happy Holidays, and that’s for several reasons.  First, Merry Christmas is itself kind of meaningless phrase.  What do they mean by “merry” and what do they mean by “Christmas”?  You might think merry is the same as jocular or pleasant or some other adjective.  I guess they leave it to us to decide which applies.  And then there is the question of Christmas itself.  Do they mean the festival of the Incarnation of our Lord, or maybe Santa Claus and festive food? If they mean the Incarnation I would contend that rather than merry, we should be reflective and filled with a sense of awe and astonishment.  If they mean Santa and the food–well, I couldn’t care less.

I also think there is a good lesson for Christians when they hear someone say “Happy Holidays.”  There is among a subset of American Christians the idea that this country is a “Christian country.”  Hearing “Happy Holidays” should remind us all that it is clearly not a Christian country.  In fact, it never was a Christian country and it never will be a Christian country because there is no such thing as a Christian country in this world.  The Kingdom of God is the Christian “country”, the only Christian country that will ever exist.  All the faithful are citizens of that country and resident aliens in this place in this age before the Lord’s return.

What most people call Christmas is neither about Christ nor does it involve a mass, it is instead a thoroughly secular holiday.  And that is a great shame, but the more the culture moves away from a true celebration of the Nativity the more the Church can cling to it and give it a real meaning for those who know Christ as Lord.  And in that counter cultural celebration the Name of Jesus will be lifted up and His chosen people will be edified.

Blessed Incarnation to you all.

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I'm a Lutheran pastor at St. Paul's Free Lutheran Church in Leitersburg, Md. I hope this blog will speak to the hearts of people about the free gift of God in Christ Jesus which is for sinners like me.

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