Wednesday, 17 December 2008

God and the Politics of Christmas

I hear a lot of grumbling this time of year about "the reason for the season" and "Merry Christmas" being the new un-PC greeting. Come, come. Christians have never had sole claim to Christmas - why do we figure we need it now? The "reasons for the season" are about as various as the people celebrating it. Do you suppose Jesus was born on December 25 under a Christmas tree? Do you suppose God is bothered by people who say "Happy Holidays"?

The trouble with all of this wrangling over what Christmas means and who is allowed to celebrate it and how, is that it completely obscures the real issues. It gives us a sense of control because monitoring people's words is something we can manage. It's measurable, and in our world, value must be measured. But it shines a light on us and sticks God in a dim corner. It causes us to forget who it is that we are asking people to celebrate when we stubbornly call out "Merry Christmas" to the grocery store clerk. We are glad to tell people of a God who became a human, who knows our weakness, who was a baby before he was our Saviour - but we present him as a small-minded disciplinarian, more focused on the shape of the words than their actual meaning.

This Christmas, what if we ignored the encroaching darkness around us, and took up arms against the darkness within us? What if we gave up selling Bethlehem as a tourist destination and instead, bowed like awestruck shepherds inside our own hearts before God-become-human? What if we quit looking around at who else was there with us, and got a good peek instead at the babe called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace?

What would that say about the season?

Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.

Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD ?

"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Happy Holidays to you all!


patrick said...

this is good. i wish you a stress-free christmas (haha)

joeyanne said...

Funny how we always look for a "cause" to stand for - for controversy and indignities. I guess it somehow makes us feel better about ourselves (or we think it will!) - to correct or criticize.

Looooove it! as usual.