This is the kind of post that will make some of my emergent Christian and non-church friends roll their eyes.
I don’t know about you, but in the coming weeks, my faithfulness will be questioned by other believers. Just as some Americans will judge politicians of being unpatriotic if they don’t wear a flag pin on their lapels, some Christians will judge me if . . .
- I use Santa stamps instead of Jesus stamps on my Christmas cards. (Actually, this year’s Jesus stamp is of the magi and they are lovely.)
- I say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” One of our annual family conversations is about what the Christmas card greeting will be: Peace on earth? Happy Holidays? We like Winter? We send lots of cards to non-Christians. Will they be offended if our card says, “Merry Christmas“?
- I play secular songs instead of Christmas carols. White Christmas = bad. O Holy Night = good. And what to do about ostensibly Christian songs that are terrible? Exhibit A: Little Drummer Boy
- We don’t set up a home Advent Candle, creche set, or yard angel.
I’ve noticed the looks from faithful friends when I tell them we watch the Bourne trilogy on Christmas Day instead of The Nativity Story with that actress from Whale Rider. And for the record, we tend to use the religious postal stamps and we do have a small creche set in the living room.
But none of these things matter if this is all we do “for Christmas.” If the sum of our Christmas practices involve saying “Merry Christmas” or sending cards or placing a blow-up Nativity Scene on the front lawn, then we are the weakest of believers. Do we really believe that any of these practices expand the reign of God on earth?
This story of the police officer in NYC who bought boots for a homeless man is actually a Christ-like act, and who knows if Officer dePrimo is a part of any church. He is a practicing Christian in the way he lives his life if he is doing a Christ-like thing. Saying “Merry Christmas” versus “Season’s Greetings” makes no difference if we don’t, ourselves, make a difference in the image of Jesus.