Driving home from the grocery store the other day, I happened to see the following billboard:
Now I’m fine with “Merry Christmas”. I have nothing against saying “Merry Christmas” and I will wish everyone out there a “Merry Christmas”.
But the idea that Jesus actually said something like “I miss hearing you say ‘Merry Christmas'” had me almost choking on my coffee laughing.
Why? Because Christmas was originally a pagan holiday until the Romans declared it a religious holiday. The thinking went that no one would celebrate it if they tried to hold it on a different date. So why not work some religion into an already existing holiday?
I wonder if the billboard designers think that the Christmas tree came from the bible (Hint: it was a pagan ritual).
It also struck me as funny trying to think about which chapter of the bible Jesus would have said this in. Probably the Book of John as his narrative leaned towards the most “imaginative” anyways.
Of course, Jesus never said any such thing.
It just strikes me as funny that they’re putting words in Jesus’ mouth. Doesn’t this go against one of the commandments? Something about worshiping false idols or wrongful use of the Lord’s name?
I guess the billboard authors see themselves as some kind of holy warriors in this so-called “war against Christmas”.
The way the ladies at Merry Christmas Billboards say it is: “What was apparent to us was that there was a deliberate effort being made to take Christ out of Christmas.”
As a card carrying liberal, I’m happy to say that Christmas never comes up at the meetings. There are simply other things that are much more important.
In fact, I don’t know anyone who minds “Merry Christmas.” Not my Jewish friends. Not my Muslim friends. Not my Hindu friends. Not my Japanese friends.
There are, however, a couple of things that worry me about these billboards as a liberal.
One, the amount of fear that has been drummed into some right-wing Christians. Why is this a concern? Groups that feel they are under attack are capable of using this fear to justify just about any action against another group.
In general, liberals do not object to Christianity and are, quite the contrary, big defenders of freedom of religion. But if you talk to many right-wing Christians, you’d think we were the anti-Christ. I never realized where this came from until I tuned into right-wing radio which pumps a daily dose of fear and hate out over the airwaves (Is there any irony here that some of the people purveying this hatred are self-proclaimed Christians?).
Second, God does not scare me. But the people who think God is talking to them do. Because when you start hearing voices, who knows what the voices might say?
So here is my Christmas wish. I wish I could send something like the following letter to all Christians:
No one hates you and there is no “vast liberal conspiracy” against you.
Please feel free to worship in any way you would like this holiday season.
When you’re thinking about God, here are a couple messages of peace, love, and understanding I hope you consider:
“Do unto others what you would have them do unto you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.” – Matthew 7:12
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you! … If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else?” – Matthew 5:43-44
I’m thinking about these things this Christmas. And I’m not Christian.
It’s my Christmas wish that we all remember some of these messages when people on the radio or TV are telling us to hate liberals or hate conservatives.
We are all people though we may sometimes disagree. Here is a message you will not hear on talk radio because this type of message does not generate controversy or increase ratings.
Yet it’s this message I’m sending you this Christmas season.
All the Best in 2010 and Merry Christmas!