Warning: this may get a little preachy… actually, this may get full-blown rant-y.
Just so you know, there is no war on Christmas. We lost it decades ago. Any rumors you may have heard about this so-called war are probably just wars about something else. Those wars are not the point of this post.
This post is about a statement I heard on this-here internet about how the White House – apparently for the first time ever – was going to call their Christmas tree a "holiday tree." More evidence of how our Christian-expressions of faith are losing yardage to an overly politically-correct society. Only it's not true. Only the Christmas tree remains a "Christmas tree" and has never been called anything else. But don't take my word for it, click here and check out how they describe the big green thing in the middle of the Blue Room.
Now I react strongly to this for a variety of reasons:
- Why would someone make up a thing like this? Are there Christians out there who feel like making up so-called attacks on our faith is actually helping our cause? We are about proclaiming the Truth – and this should really go without saying – but lying does not ever help us to do that.
- Would calling it a "holiday tree" actually be an attack on our faith or even an attack on the celebration of Christmas? If Christmas is the celebration of the Savior being born into the world, how exactly does an evergreen proclaim that? Now lest I start to sound too Grinch-y here, don't get me wrong: put up your trees, decorate them festively, and light them up. They are a wonderful tradition and a joyous celebration of Christmas; they just don't have anything to do with the birth of Jesus. Here's an interesting article from Wikipedia about Christmas trees. It's a rich tradition, they have lots of meanings for us, but Christmas trees are not about Jesus.
- Is this so-called controversy distracting us from something more important? This season, sometimes called by Christians as the "Christmas Season," is more accurately described as the Advent season. Advent means "coming." This is the season that the followers of Jesus remember our Savior entering into our world. During Advent we also anticipate his coming again and his spiritual presence with us until then, but those are also more year-round proclamations. During Advent and especially on Christmas day, we have a unique and profound statement to make about our faith: we believe that God's love took flesh-and-blood form in Jesus. Do we make that statement with the symbolism of a Christmas tree? Of course not. Frankly, I can't think of anything we could adorn our churches, houses, or yards with that could ever make that statement better than through God's love continuing to take flesh-and-blood form in the followers of Jesus. If it's the incarnate love of God that we are trying to proclaim, then perhaps incarnate love is how we ought to proclaim it.
If there is a war on Christmas, then it's a war that the followers of Jesus often forget how to fight. In this season (and in all our seasons, really), let us strive to express our faith in the way Paul described: "I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect." [Romans 12:1-2, NRSV]