Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Naughty or Nice List

I'm on a rant again--which I suppose is nothing new to those who know me.  But it's true:  I'm going to gag if I hear one more time, "We've got to put Christ back in Christmas." 

How ridiculous. The whole idea suggests that someone has the power to take Christ OUT of Christmas. Can't be done. Christmas IS the Christ Mass. The word itself stands as the acknowledgment of the Incarnation, the breaking into the confinement of time and space of the firstborn of all creation ultimately to die and then live again. Sure, there are lots of overlays on that, but for goodness sake, celebrating the Christ Mass on December 25th was itself an overlay on a pagan custom to have fun around the time of the winter solstice. 

So who has the power to take Christ out of Christmas? No one. And this is why I think I want to gag even more at the website set up by First Baptist Dallas announcing their judgment on those who don't acknowledge Christmas in the way they think it should be acknowledged. These deluded people have set themselves up as defenders of God and they are going to show the world what God is really like. Their site actually says, "Help us preserve Christ this Christmas."

Really? Is God so powerless that God needs us puny humans to muster a defensive army to preserve the Creator, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords?

I'm all for loving God and working out my salvation with fear and trembling. But defending God? This is the kind of stuff that leads to rampantly destructive religious wars and leave the landscape soaked in the blood of others who were also defending God but whose weapons were less advanced. 

But the powerful Jeffress and his minions use their billion dollar church base (OK, slight exaggeration) to shame businesses and civic organizations into saying exactly what these self-appointed "correct" ones have decided is the best way to offer greetings and display decoration this time of the year. "Happy Holidays" is out. "Season's Greetings" earns a spot in the fifth or sixth circle of hell.  Generic seasonal decorations without overtly Christian themes suffer major condemnation by these denizens of Christmas Correctness. 

Reality check:  Christmas is a minor church celebration with minimal biblical support that has been blown way out of proportion by the very ones who insist that people are taking Christ out of Christmas. In the life of the church, Easter and Pentecost are far, far more important.  They are just not nearly as much fun. After all, when is the time you decided to have a Pentecost Party, or the children of the church performed a "Pentecost Pageant" or you decorated your house with tongues of fire?

Furthermore, how many of those Christmas Correct folks are themselves guilty of misusing the season? Christmas trees have a pagan base. Wise men do NOT show up the night of the birth, and we don't know how many there were. Christmas programs highlighting a nasty inn-keeper who heartlessly sent the already laboring Mary and her bewildered husband to a lonely, dirty and cold stable do not reflect well what happened at that time. 

I need to stop my own "grinchness" here. Christmas has never been my favorite holiday. I think we kill ourselves during this time, as we run from our pain and our darkness with frantic activity and make ourselves miserable with forced merriness and unhealthy eating, sleeping, partying and spending patterns.  I wonder how many will say on Christmas Eve, "Nope, can't make it to church because it will interfere with the meal preparation or I still have to buy and wrap one more gift."

It's time to find peace. That's what the angels announced to those lowly and despised shepherds. Peace. This world sorely needs it. Peace. A time to reconcile with others and with God.  Peace. Peace, my friends.


EHC said...

Amen! Everything in the infancy narratives makes a theological point. There were 3 gifts, not 3 wise men, and they represented deity (frankincense), kingship (gold), and death (myrrh) - a king, who is God, who will die.* The manger is a Eucharistic reference, Jesus as the Bread of Life.**

*The Reverend T.C. Roper taught this in a Bible study at Transfiguration, Dallas, years ago.
**Dr. Mark Stamm said this in this past semester's Word and Worship class at Perkins.

Thanks be to God for wise pastors, teachers, and theologians, of which you are all 3, and thanks for an excellent article.

Angie Hammond said...

Amen Rev. Dr. Christy Thomas. I love your ranting as you put it. I just checked the website to see just what Dr. Jeffress had to say and was appalled at what I heard in his reply to Steve Blow's article in the Dallas Morning news about his statements about Islam. I watched a nine minute statement which addressed what was said about him and how it was wrong. And at the very end I watched him condemn all those who Muslims to hell and then say they didn't hate them they wanted to convert them.

OK, somehow I just don't think Christ would have gone about saving these people by telling them they were going to hell. Granted he did say he was the only way to the father, but he also said judge not so we will not be judged.

As for putting Christ back into Christ Mass, I think it is just another way for them to draw attention to themselves and their pastor. More money in a world were it is getting harder for churches to survive.

Thanks for ranting about something that is important not just at Christmas time.

EricW said...

Sure, there are lots of overlays on that, but for goodness sake, celebrating the Christ Mass on December 25th was itself an overlay on a pagan custom to have fun around the time of the winter solstice.

William J. Tighe has a different take on December 25: http://touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=16-10-012-v