Last week a friend of mine got caught in traffic. The red flashing lights, closed lanes, and crushed cars brought back tragic memories. The traffic made her late, but they weren’t the source of her tears.
At roughly the same time another friend stood at a retail check-out counter, paralyzed by the cashier’s cheery greeting–“Happy Holidays!” His mind raced, “Should I say Merry Christmas, or just Happy Holidays?”
Yesterday a friend told me about the arrest of his friend’s teenage son. The boy’s biological mother’s life habits were deplorable; one day she dropped off her son with the words, “Take him, I don’t want him any more.” The last time the young man went to her house she pushed him away saying, “Get the hell out of here! I’ve told you I don’t want you!”
I also recently saw a photo of a billboard today on facebook that reads “I miss hearing you say ‘Merry Christmas’ –Jesus.”
Really? Do we really think Jesus misses the way we greet strangers or the phrases corporations employ as they prostitute the joy of Christmas with rampant materialism and individualistic greed?
How has it come to this? How has the history-shattering, life-transforming, darkness-invading reality of ‘God with us’ been reduced to a pithy, passing greeting? Have we really outsourced the gospel this blatantly, this obviously? It’s been pointed out that proper greetings (like ‘Peace be with you, keep warm and well-fed’) uttered only in passing smell like a corpse. It’s also been said that we are not to take the name of the LORD God in vain.
I sometimes wonder if the most vehement Merry Christmasers end up instead as unintentional blasphemers.
I care about little else with as much passion as I care about putting Christ back in Christmas. Yet, I don’t care about the greeting “Merry Christmas” AT ALL.
Her car was stuck in traffic, her mind was 1,000 miles away, her soul was in anguish. Suddenly a hand touched hers, and she looked down as her elementary aged son took her hand in his, met her gaze, and held her hand while she cried.
The good news is in our hands.