Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Meaning of Following Jesus, not Christmas

I just read Jim Wallis’ The Real War on Christmas… by Fox News. Boy, did he get that one right. In a nutshell, Wallis calls the annual counter attack by Fox News (against the supposed “war” on Christmas by our secular society) a misguided defense of our cultural and commercial Christmas symbols, not a defense of the real meaning of Jesus’ message.

When defenders of our Christian heritage scoff at the secular or government forces that replace “Merry Christmas” with “Happy Holidays” or no longer refer to “Christmas” trees or ban a crèche scene on public property, they inadvertently miss the genuine message from which our Christmas tradition derives: that God’s personal expression of Himself in Christ transforms us to be truly human, radically loving, and defenders of the poor and oppressed. And, as Wallis reminds us, Mary’s declaration foretelling Jesus’ birth and purpose, that God dethrones the powerful, lifts the lowly, fills the hungry, and sends the rich away empty, is what Fox and its defenders would call class warfare.

Defending symbols and terms is not important. Acting out the message behind them is. The way I see it, Fox News defends civil religion, not spiritual transformation or good news for the poor. Yes, our family will exchange gifts and rally around our Christmas tree. But the real “Christmas” stuff happens when we choose a poor African entrepreneur to give a microloan to, correspond with one of our sponsored children in Malawi, or write a letter to a forgotten prisoner in Yemen. In other words, when you or I love the physically or spiritually poor.

I welcome your comments on what Christmas means to you.

No comments: