Stuck in the Middle
originally written & posted
16 December 2006
photo by Shirley:Venus Flytrap/November 06
Merry Christmas!
Happy Holidays!

Many have taken sides in the latest cultural battle--this time over which greeting should be used during this special season...a season that is supposed to be full of peace, joy and tenderness has instead become full of angry voices and defensive stances.

How did we get to this point?  
How can such a lovely time as this become so tainted with bitterness?

I celebrate Christmas.  What this is to me is a celebration of God's gift of Hope...a baby born with the humblest of beginnings...lying in a manger...destined to become the Savior of the world.  No one can take that away from me.  Ever.

If I say "Happy Holidays" to someone I feel I am accused of "political correctness" when politics has nothing to do with it at all!  I am merely trying to convey a wish of joy and goodwill toward another person whom I am unsure of which holiday they celebrate.  If I say "Merry Christmas" instead to someone who doesn't celebrate that holiday...does it really mean anything to them?  It means a lot to me...but this is not about me...not when I am trying to say something meaningful to someone who may not know what I know or believe what I believe.

I understand why some are fearful of losing "Christ" in "Christmas" by using such a generic greeting.  However, I feel we have already lost that battle in our culture.  When the focus of this blessed holiday became more about the gifts we give and receive than rejoicing in and reflecting on the Gift of Hope and Salvation to a world without hope--this is where we lose Christ in Christmas.

When we get offended by someone's wish for us to have a happy holiday (when they may not know what holiday we are celebrating), how is that showing them Christ-like love?  Our attitude toward the word "holiday" has become combative and rigid.  Feel free to correct me if I am mistaken, but the only humans with whom Christ took a combative stance with were the religious leaders who had lost their compassion and who had access to the Word of God and yet twisted it to suit themselves.  If we are truly to live as followers of Christ we must model our own behavior and attitudes after His examples left for us in the Bible.  The wounded, the hurting, the lost--those are who His heart yearned to heal.  He ate with them, spent time with them, loved them.  He did not take personal offense at their wrongdoing but showed them a better way.  He of all people would certainly have had the right to be offended, considering the price tag of their redemption.  He didn't "tolerate" their sin but His attitude when He dealt with it was one of compassion (this choice is causing you harm)--not self-righteousness (I'm right, you're wrong). 

What a difference our attitude makes!  Our words have little or no meaning if the attitude doesn't match.  What difference will it make if I say "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays" if it is dripping with self-righteous defiance?  

Where is the love?

*O Father, please forgive us when we get so caught up in semantics that we lose sight of the love You have given us--the love You have commissioned us to share with this broken and bleeding world.  Please help us know when it's appropriate to stand and fight and when it's time to lay down our arms and allow Your peace and love to work its amazing power.  Open our eyes to those around us who may need our help.  Help us to be aware of the needs of others and give us hearts that desire to share the blessings we have received from Your hand of mercy.  Thank You for all that You are and for all that You are gonna do.  Your love is truly us to share it.
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