The Battle For Christmas

It happens every year.

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays? Holiday concert or Christmas pageant? Baby Jesus or Santa Claus?

Atheists oppose public religious displays. Christians insist, often angrily, that Jesus is the reason for the season. Battle lines appear. Each side demands respect through disrespectful acrimony and sarcasm.

It happened again here. And it’s all very, very sad.

A couple of observations.

I’m amazed at the power Jesus exerts over the thoughts and behaviors of people who don’t believe in Him. Atheists seem more focused on Christ than many Christians.

Personally, I’m skeptical when someone, no matter their position, needs to convince others about their beliefs. Whenever one loudly proclaims ideology and insists that others listen, it’s because their ideas are in doubt.

You never hear anyone screaming from the mountaintop that it’s going to be dark at night.

I’m dismayed by Christians who react in anger. No one can restrict my right to celebrate Christmas without my permission. Instead of fighting about religious displays on public property, what would it look like if a nativity scene adorned the front yard of every believer?

I think of relationships as circles, so I’ll use that analogy to illustrate my personal strategy.

I imagine myself standing in a circle. Those outside my circle cannot change the environment inside. But what happens inside has the power to change the world. My primary prayer is that, inside my circle, Christmas is celebrated in a manner that honors Jesus.

My second prayer is that others will be attracted to my circle, that they’ll see what happens there and be curious enough to accept my invitation to step inside and check it out.

Inside my circle there’s all sorts of Christmas music—I can chuckle when Jimmy Buffet sings Jingle Bells and reflect quietly on the familiar images and words of Silent Night. Our decorations include several versions of Santa along with three nativity scenes.

But inside my circle it’s baby Jesus, Merry Christmas, and grace at the center. I hope that’s what others see.

I hope you’ll join me.

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