Monday, December 08, 2008

And to all a whiny night...

***SIGH***
Every year, the same recycled pieces make their rounds of the internet. Some are of better quality than others. I received the following Christmas poem--one that I've received many times before--in my email inbox the other day. For the record, this is one of the *ahem* "lesser quality" pieces:

Twas the month before Christmas
When all through our land,
Not a Christian was praying
Nor taking a stand.
The politically correct police had taken away,
The reason for Christmas - no one could say.
The children were told by their schools not to sing,
About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.
It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say
December 25th is just a " Holiday ".

Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit
Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!
CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-pod
Something was changing, something quite odd!
Retailers promoted Rama dan and Kwanzaa
In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.
As Targets were hanging their trees upside down
At Lowe's the word Christmas - was nowhere to be found.
At K-Mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears
You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.

Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty
Are words that were used to intimidate me.
Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen
On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton!
At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter
To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.
And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith
Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace
The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded
The reason for the season, stopped before it started.

So as you celebrate "Winter Break" under your "Dream Tree"
Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.
Choose your words carefully, choose what you say
Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS, not Happy Holiday!


It is time, as my favorite English teacher used to say, to "explicate and analyze."

Twas the month before Christmas
When all through our land,
Not a Christian was praying
Nor taking a stand.
If that is indeed the case, we Christians have nobody to blame but ourselves. Time to look in the mirror, point the finger inward (no, not THAT finger...the index finger!), repent of of the flippant way we often approach our faith and the Christmas celebration, and be renewed by the hope of the Christ child.

The politically correct police had taken away,
The reason for Christmas - no one could say.
The children were told by their schools not to sing,
About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.
It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say
December 25th is just a " Holiday ".

Um...nobody can take away the reason for Christmas. The reason is still there. Maybe it's been covered up or forgotten, but if that's the case, then again we (Christians) have nobody to blame but ourselves. The "reason for the season" can never be taken away...it can only be given away by those who have been entrusted with the story and the good news that the story brings. As for no pageants in the public schools...public school has never done a very good job of telling the Christmas story anyway, has it? Or should it? The creator of the universe showing ultimate, unconditional love for humankind by entering humankind's story as a helpless, vulnerable baby born to an unwed teenage mother in Palestine? I'd much rather have the church be telling that story anyway.

Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit
Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!
CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-pod
Something was changing, something quite odd!
How many of those pushy shoppers do you think would identify themselves as Christians? We can't accuse others of taking away our celebration's meaning when we have so willingly given it away. Christmas has been sacrificed on the altar of consumerism, and it's not just the rest of the world that's to blame.

Retailers promoted Rama dan and Kwanzaa
In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.
As Targets were hanging their trees upside down
At Lowe's the word Christmas - was nowhere to be found.
At K-Mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears
You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.
May God have mercy on the church if we depend on big box retailers for evangelism. Don't blame the stores--their bottom line is to do whatever it takes to sell stuff. If that means saying "Merry Christmas," then they'll do it. If it means saying "May a reindeer spike your eggnog," then they'll do it. With very few exceptions (Hobby Lobby and Chick Fil-A are two I can think of off the bat) big chains don't do things like that solely for principle. I'll take a genuine "Happy Holidays" over a prostituted "Merry Christmas," said just in the hopes of keeping my business, any day.

Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty
Are words that were used to intimidate me.
Really? Christians intimidated by inclusiveness? Sensitivity? Diversity? If our faith system can't stand on its own when placed side by side with others, then maybe we need to examine the validity of our faith system. Those words shouldn't be intimidating. They should be challenging, exciting, and incredible opportunities for witness.

Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen
On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton!
At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter
To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.
Jesus never became part of the "establishment," religious OR governmental. He was too busy working on the edges of society. The de-centering of Christianity from public life may well end up being one of the best things that ever happened to the faith, as it forces Christians out of a position of comfort and into the big, murky questions of faith. We're called to be counter-cultural. When religion buddies up with politics, each helps make the other fat and lazy. Give me a church on the fringes, a church more comfortable showing the love of Christ than complaining about the language politicians use.

And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith
Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace
The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded
The reason for the season, stopped before it started.
Come on. Seriously. Nobody's taking away anybody's faith. Faith is a gift that can never be taken away...it can only be willingly given. We're called to be in the world, but not of the world...but for some reason we expect the world to be "of us?" There's not much more unbecoming than a whiny Christian. Instead of complaining that the world's not hearing our message, and that they're not doing things our way, maybe we ought to be working to make sure the message the world's hearing (and seeing) is a worthwhile one. To make them wonder in a positive way instead of a negative way, "why do they act the way they do? What is it that compels them to love and serve like that? And where can I get me some of that?" Of course, the gospel, the true message of Christmas, IS a worthwhile message, but too often along the way much gets lost in the telling, by both our words and deeds.

So as you celebrate "Winter Break" under your "Dream Tree"
Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.
Choose your words carefully, choose what you say
Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS, not Happy Holiday!

This Christmas, may you be filled with the wonder of Mary, the obedience of Joseph, the joy of the angels, the eagerness of the shepherds, the determination of the magi, and the peace of the Christ child. Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit bless you all now and forever.

LH

2 comments:

healtheland said...

Jesus never became part of the "establishment," religious OR governmental. He was too busy working on the edges of society. The de-centering of Christianity from public life may well end up being one of the best things that ever happened to the faith, as it forces Christians out of a position of comfort and into the big, murky questions of faith."

Why don't you take that and run with it? And by the way, Jesus Christ was born during the Feast of Tabernacles, which is in September to October depending on the year (remember the Jewish calendar is different from ours) anyway. So let the world have Christmas, or should we say the MASS of Christ. (You are fully aware of what Martin Luther wrote concerning the abomination of the Roman Catholic mass). It was the holiday of the world and those who love it to begin with.

Rev Scott said...

Heal the land:

My friend is far too kindhearted to say it, so I'll say it for him: you're not helping, either.