Tuesday, December 21, 2010

You Can't Get There From Here: From Emily Litella To The Battle For Christmas

Be warned. This post is going around the mountain before we get to the top.

1st . . . "Merry Christmas!!!"  I just wanted to start with that in case someone thinks that what I'm writing means I'm antiChristmas. I have always battled a bit of a Scroogitude, but I am not antiChristmas. I am all about Christ in Christmas. I wouldn't celebrate it any other way.

2nd . . .  "Never mind."  If you were an early Saturday Night Live fan, you saw Gilda Radner do the Miss Emily Litella sketch. Emily was an old lady who did an editorial rant on the news. The problem was that every time she was ranted, it was about the wrong thing. For instance, she did one on "Why is everyone so upset about all the violins on TV. If they don't show violins on TV until after 10, how will all the little children learn music appreciation?"  Chevy Chase broke in and said, "Miss Litella, it was violence, violence on TV."  To which she responded, "Oh, well, that's different. Never mind."

3rd . . . "The truth shall set you free."  Truthfully, the vast majority of what we do at Christmas has nothing to do with the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Truthfully, the way we celebrate Christmas actually distorts the Biblical narrative and purpose of the birth of Christ.  Think about it.  Tree . . . not there.  Three wise men . . . not three, and not there at his birth but two years later, so there were no gifts given on the night of his birth.  Lots of family. . . not there.  Big Christmas meal . . . didn't happen.  Happy times . . . not so much since Mary didn't even have a clean room to have the baby in.

4th . . . "Never mind . . . not commanded." No place in Scripture tells us to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and certainly none of it tells us to do it like we do it. I know, I'm a Scrooge.  No, not Scrooge, truth . . . and only the truth really sets us free and makes us live. Jesus gave his church two ordinances, baptism and the Lord's supper.

5th . . . "The Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God." It's Christmas, and the war of words has once again been fought.  You know, "Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays."  We have once again ranted about the Christ in Christmas, but understand this. Christmas as we know it is a cultural creation of the Christian faith. It is not a God-ordained, Scripturally mandated or instructed function of the church or the Christian life. 

The birth of Christ, the incarnation is pivotal. It should in no way be minimized, but Christmas as we do it cannot be Biblically defended.  We do not have  a Biblical sword to draw to fight this battle.  This war is not a war against the tree, gifts, and family time. It is a war against the incarnation, without which there could have been no redemptive blood spilt, and no bodily resurrection accomplished.  Without the incarnation, there is no gospel. Without the gospel, there is no hope.

I wonder if the battle for Christmas is wrong, and we have misunderstood what He really wanted just like Miss Emily Litella. God didn't say, "fight for Christ in Christmas." He didn't say, "post anti Xmas posts on Facebook."  He said, "preach the good news to all men."  What if Christ doesn't really want Christmas.  He didn't come to have a birthday party. He came to give new life to all who would believe. 

"Oh, well, it's probably just me. Never mind."