I wrote this letter to the editor of The Tulsa World and they published it (edited slightly for length) last Sunday – 11/13/2011. Here’s a link to the online version. The comments are…something.
Last year, as one of the pastors at a large church, I literally received more emails encouraging me to boycott this store or that parade for dropping the word “Christmas” than I did wishing me a Merry Christmas. The new Tulsa Christmas Parade is simply the latest example of a move to “reclaim Christmas for Jesus.” As a professional in this area, let me suggest a better way.
I think it’s time to give Christmas back. Honestly, we (Christians) stole most of it from the pagans in the first place. Evergreens, candle light services, Santa Claus’ beard, hat and coat, mistletoe, holly berries and many other “Christmas” traditions were all poached from European pagan traditions. Add on rampant commercialism, and it’s pretty obvious that what we do on December 25th hasn’t been specifically “Christian” for quite some time. Why not treat Christmas like any other non-religious holiday – Columbus Day or Super Bowl Sunday.
This will do two important things. First, it will let us relax and enjoy the holidays. We can still gather with friends and family, buy each other thoughtful gifts, watch It’s a Wonderful Life and pray for world peace. But now we won’t have to worry whether the city’s snow man is bigger than its nativity scene, or whether the guy at Target said “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.”
Second, it will free up a lot of time and energy for the Church to do Christian things. There will be no need to boycott stores for which greeting they use, and we’ll have time to boycott them for unfair labor practices or how they treat their overseas suppliers. What if we didn’t have to spend so much money creating our own Christmas Parade? Then we’d have all that money to buy meals for hungry people or winter coats for the children of the unemployed.
Just imagine. Maybe the best way to make the holidays “more Christian” is to spend less time arguing over labels and more time acting like Christ.