Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Merry Politically Correct Holiday

In case you haven't noticed this Christmas season, retailers everywhere are doing their darndest to keep everything PC by not using the word Christmas in any of their sale ads or commercials.

Em and I were discussing Ari's Best Buy gift card debacle the other day, and Emily pointed out that for some reason, putting a star of David and menorah on a Chanukah card isn't considered offensive, but we would never expect to see a cross or a nativity scene on a Christmas store gift card- instead there are pictures of presents and Christmas trees (or should I say holiday trees?).

Even some local churches have canceled their morning worship services because Christmas falls on a Sunday this year. (This Really makes me mad, and I could write essays on the topic.)Heaven forbid Christ's birth should get in the way of us enjoying a lazy morning in our pajamas opening gifts we don't need or sometimes want.

It's no wonder we all get sucked into the buy-crap-we-don't-need mentality, and rush around in a hurry to get everything done, wondering why the holidays are such hectic, stressful times. I charge that it's time to put the Christ back in Christmas. And I know we all say we need to do that, but this year, really do it.

Keep it mind when you're fighting someone for a parking place atthe mall, or waiting for the slow person in front of you to check out, or sighing when you look at your list of things to do between now and the 25th. I believe God loves for his people to celebrate the birth of His son, and he enjoys the fact that we commune as families to do this. It is good that we remember the gift He gave by giving gifts to others, but let it all be a time of joy rather than a mad-dash all over town to shop for the person who is impossible to shop for.

Even if the world only recognizes it as a holiday, you can still treat it like it's Christmas.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

There is nothing wrong with cancelling the service on Christmas. My church in particular is having an extended Christmas Eve service. They wanted everyone, including the pastoral team and those who have huge committments for services to be able to relax with family and celebrate in whatever way is most importatnt to them. There is way more to celebrating Christ's birth than attending a church service....nothing wrong with attending church by any means, but be careful not to attack specific churches b/c they don't have the exact same view: People's is a wonderful church!

Anonymous said...

there are many wonderful churches in this area, and i'm not sure the blog was meant to attack in any way, but rather vent to the fact that instead of celebrating the sabbath as we should every single sunday, some establishments are choosing not to do so because of the time of year. as we all know december 25th is not the actual day that Jesus was born, but we set aside this day to celebrate. sunday, however, was the "7th" day. the day of rest and reflection. to join in the name and word of God.
~ari

Anonymous said...

you can celebrate the sabbath without going to church
-jill

Amanda said...

Ok. I know it's a delicate issue, so I'm going to try and tread lightly. Christmas falls on Sunday once every 7 years- a small sacrifice to make for anyone. What kind of message is it sending out to nonbelievers or twice-a-year church attenders if we cancel church on one of the most sacred days to Christianity: That spending time with family is more important than worshipping God together?

The link was included to provide proof, because honestly, I didn't believe it until I saw it in print. There are many other churches opting out of church on Christmas as well, and I have no problem listing those here as well if someone hands me a list, so as not to discriminate.

jillymae said...

just want to say first that the above 'anonymous' comment signed by 'jill' was not me, although it does sound like something i would say. it confused me to see another jill commenting on here.

personally, i think you could go either way, spending time with family at home on Chirstmas Day or going to a church service.

i think the point is, to quote Mike Glenn, that "Jesus never intended for us to work ourselves into a frenzy to celebrate His birthday...we should give less, and remember more." maybe we should celebrate Jesus' birthday like we celebrate our own - invite our friends and family over and have cake and ice cream!

MamaB said...

Christmas--the day we celebrate Jesus's birth. Sunday--the day we take to "physically" stop and reflect with God, a day of rest and a day to give thanks. When these days hit on the same day, it is obvious that we get to celebrate Jesus's birth IN church where we can genuinely give thanks for the greatest gift of all.
I can't think of a better way to celebrate CHRISTmas than to do it in the Lord's house.

Mark Kelly Hall said...

Sorry this is so long, but I've been doing a lot of thinking on this topic, so get comfy:

Sunday is not the Sabbath. Saturday, the last day of the week, is the Sabbath. The early church (and by that I don't mean the 9:15 service) at some point started gathering on Sunday to commemorate the resurrection of Christ (we call it the Lord's Day). Because of our roots in Judaism we have carried some of the tradition of the Sabbath into our lives, but it's not the same thing, and we are not under the same compulsion as the Jews to try to follow all the laws they had accumulated over time regarding whether you could pick up a stick, how far you could walk, etc.

In case you're not convinced, then consider how to apply what Jesus said: "The Sabbath is made for man, not man for the Sabbath."

Yes, Amanda, "spending time with family is more important than worshipping God together" because the family came first (Adam, Eve, the kids) long before the church, and it is the core element of the church. Some fine people including my dad have forgotten this from time to time. As long as we don't make a habit of skipping worship out of a selfish motive, we all need a break now and then, if for no other reason than to return to corporate gatherings with a renewed appreciation and vigor.

The church is a group of people, not a building. So you can be in the building and still not be in the church, and vice-versa. And the building is not the Lord's house, the temple was the Lord's house; the Lord comes to dwell in the heart of the believer, making the body His temple.

Our natural tendency is to come to depend on outward traditions and think of them as essential to our spiritual vitality, and they eventually become idols, which then have to be destroyed, so we can start all over with the basics. This is true in life, as it is in the church. The Reformation is a prime example (I know I may be hitting close to the nerve, given the Catholic backgrounds represented here), as is the Jesus Movement of the 60's. A snake could not live without its skin, but it also could not live long if it never shed that skin once it became more a hindrance than a help.

I could list a hundred things we do in the church that people think are necessities but are merely tradition with no biblical basis whatsoever (dressing up, for example), some of which actually came from pagan practices (meeting in a dedicated building). The church has adopted and adapted these for its purposes, usually for good reasons and with good results. The same is true for Christmas; but as anyone who saw the Grinch classic last night on TV was reminded, you can eliminate nearly all the stuff we do, and the time we do it, etc., and the essential truth we celebrate will not change. So this "Christmas or Else!" mentality is totally out of place, especially for believers in Ultimate Truth.

We are under Grace, not the Law. This implies we have freedom (such as you exercised in your Gatlinburg adventure not long ago), but we also have the responsibility to allow others that same freedom. As for people who only attend worship on certain days, chances are they don't get it anyway, and one less day will not make that much difference; maybe arriving at an empty building will remind them of what they are missing the rest of the year.

Mary Anna said...

In reference to the no-cross/Christian symbol giftcards, I'll just say that the truth is offensive. That's why we're having such a battle over the right to believe in Christ.

We're considered open-minded and politically correct when we are tolerant of other religions, however, when it comes to the world accepting our belief in Christ, we don't get the same respect in return. But again, the truth is offensive.

Can I just say how much I love hot-topics in the blogging world?! That's what this forum is for---to speak your mind. It's the marketplace of ideas! I love it-I love it-I love it!

Legalism is a buzz-word I hear flying back and forth through the Christian world quite a bit today. And I agree--Legalism is not a good thing. However, abandoning Legalism doesn't free us from conviction or responsibility.

If nothing else, for the people in this world that only attend church on two holidays per year, I vote for churches to swing those doors wide open on Christmas Sunday. If I were a non-Christian, who got an inkling to attend church on Sunday and I drove up and the door was closed, I'd think that those people inside didn't care about Christ. While I would be wrong (because the people do care about Christ), it's still a stumbling block for me. As a non-Christian, I don't understand the debate about Legalism in the church...all I see is a darkened church building and maybe I'm mad that no one showed up. So I'm gonna go back home and wait for Easter...but who knows, maybe the church will also close it's doors then too.

While I have no problem with the word "church" being used loosely (as in Christ is in our hearts, therefore the church is wherever I make it), I need a physical building that I can walk into on Sunday mornings where I can praise my God, be spiritually fed, fellowship with other believers and pump me up for my work week. I realize that not everyone needs "church" in a physical sense to achieve the same result. But some of us see Church as a tool for our Christian walk, a tool that helps arm us to walk out into the world.

The world is a sad, angry, scary place and it's hard for me personally to not get caught up in it, especially around Christmastime when we are bombarded by secularism. Until all born-agains get to the point that we are strong enough in our walk with Christ that we don't need the church to hold us accountable, we will continue to go to church, even on holidays.

All I'm saying is that that's fine if you don't want to go to church on Christmas day. God created us to worship in different ways. But I DO want to go to church on Christmas day. Otherwise, I'll sit at home, on the floor, in a pile of torn wrapping paper watching the Macy's parade or a TBS marathon of "The Christmas Story" and I won't "have time" to remember Christ's birth.

Church is my physical act of worship. It puts me in the mood.

Mark Kelly Hall said...

Mary Anna, I appreciate your comments, though it seems that on some points you've either ignored, misunderstood or disagreed with what I was saying (my "humble and correct opinion"!). It's all a journey, right?

Legalism is more than just a buzz-word; it's the bane of our spiritual existence. Legalism & licentiousness are two sides of the same coin, called "My Way."

I certainly was not saying we don't need to gather regularly for worship, and I need it as much as anyone, for the same reasons. I need to be reminded who He is and who I am in Him. And if our goal is to learn the truth, then we need to remember the nature of that gathering, what it is and what it isn't.

I say "go to church" even though I know we don't "go to church" we ARE the church...but when an issue like this comes up I find it's good to remember the difference.

"All I'm saying is that that's fine if you don't want to go to church on Christmas day. God created us to worship in different ways. But I DO want to go to church on Christmas day." The statement I was responding to was that it's NOT fine for some believers not to want to change their weekly schedule to accommodate what most of them were going to do anyway. And a few church bodies doing this does not stop anyone who wants to attend worship from doing it...they just have to find another place to do it. They're lost but they're not idiots, and there's no reason to assume they won't find what they're looking for if their search is sincere. God has a way of getting through to people in strange places, even if it's "at home, on the floor, in a pile of torn wrapping paper watching the Macy's parade."

The church does not gather mainly to evangelize; that is a result of believers obeying in worship (or worshipping in obedience). It's our job the rest of the week to share the message, which makes me a tad concerned about your defensive stance:

"That's why we're having such a battle over the right to believe in Christ."
"....a tool that helps arm us to walk out into the world."
"The world is a sad, angry, scary place...."

The war terminology has a biblical basis, but I think we need to be careful we remember who the enemy is and what kingdom we represent first. The enemy is not the ACLU, it's not the NEA, and it's not Wal-Mart or Target. These are the people who are sometimes under the influence of the Enemy, and we can be their liberators if we choose to obey, not for the sake of our own rights (we have no rights if we've surrendered to Christ) but for the sake of their well-meaning but confused souls. As Christians and as American citizens, we have two allegiances, and sometimes they work together, but not all the time, and our allegiance to Christ should come first.

From a strictly political sense, I agree that there has been a lot of silliness in the restrictions people have thought were appropriate under the law, like banning Nativity scenes on public property, etc. If we want to defend our political freedoms we are free to do so, but only as long as we do it in a way that honors God. Instead of being Politically Correct, we should make it our aim to be Personally Considerate. So instead of taking the arrogant attitudes that some have on this topic (*cough*JerryFALwell*cough*), and thereby adding to the anger, maybe we should gently point out that, y'know, this stuff is kind of silly, and unnecessary, and not in your best interests or mine, and this is why.... Maybe with this approach we can avoid winning the battle and losing the war. The early church attracted new people because of their humble submission to persecution and their love for one another...not because they defended their rights effectively.


I really should get my own blog, shouldn't I?

Yeah. I know.

Mary Anna said...

Mark,

My post was not a reply to your post, therefore I'm sorry if you think I ignored, misunderstood or disagreed with what you were saying. It was simply a post stating my opinion and voicing my support for church on Sundays, because Amanda brought up the topic on the Diva Domain.

I don't blame (nor ever have) the ACLU, the NEA, Wal-Mart, Target, nor any other social organization or corporate entity. I blame sin, which I too am guilty of.

As a Christian, I do feel a lot of persecution for believing the way I believe. And I look around me and I do see a growing tolerance for "worldly beliefs" and a growing abhorance for "biblical beliefs." But it's part of knowing the truth---again, it's offensive.

I stand by what I said before. Not only is church my physical act of worship, but it also allows for an opportunity to share the word of Christ. In an unsaved world, we need all the opportunities we can get.

Sarah said...

While I understand fully that the Sabbath is not necessarily Sunday, December 25 is not necessarily Christ's birthday, and that one is not required to attend church to celebrate or praise the Lord, I maintain that the message we are sending to our communities is that going to church doesn't matter. While salvation is not earned through church attendance, we ARE called into community with one another. We are also called to be different, in the world but not of it. Whether we agree or not, closing church on Christmas Sunday looks an awful lot like conforming to the world's standards of what is important, to believers and non-believers alike. The decision to celebrate the Lord's birth every day of the year or once a year, in church or out of church, with family or alone, is certainly a personal one, but it seems to me that closing the doors of our places of worship only reinforces negative stereotypes of Christians.

Here's a link to an article from my hometown newspaper on the topic: http://www.kentucky.com/mld/kentucky/living/columnists/13346263.htm . Merlene and I usually don't see eye to eye, but she got me on this one.

God Bless Us -- Everyone!

daddy b said...

Gosh.. I had to turn my speakers down just to read the blog, and it was still pretty loud! Looks like even a claw mark on my screen. Seriously though, I have been to church when the doors were closed, and I was still able to talk to God. I knew it would be closed but it somehow seemed like the place I wanted to be. However, when I go there on Christmas Sunday, kneeling on the front lawn isn't gonna be enough. I'll take a crow-bar just in case.
Put away the " claws" (pun intended) and shop, pray ,sing or however you feel best about keeping Christ in your heart and mind.

Anonymous said...

Christmas is a time to spend with family, but more importantly it is the day to celebrate Jesus' birth. We go to church to praise God and his son, so why is it ok to cancel church on Jesus' birthday? Yes, it is not the exact day of his birth but Christmas is the day we celebrate it. A church service lasts an hour, and with everything that goes on involving the service, the people involved are tied up maybe half the day. There is plenty of time to spend with family after that. Church should not be canceled on Christmas.

Laura