Who Really Won the War on Christmas?

As parents and believers, this time of year is a struggle. We long to see the wonder in our child’s eyes at the “magic” of Christmas, to watch their cheeks aglow with the soft light radiating off the tree, and hear their excited footsteps sneaking around on Christmas morning. Yet, there is a natural tension as the world around us, wrapped in consumerism and Santa, forgets Jesus. Something deep within us is troubled by a season so vibrant, yet so out of focus. Naturally, when tension tugs at our gut, we turn on our defenses and prep for combat.

The “War on Christmas” has caused media outlets and youtubers to unite in tiny battle. We fight coffee cups, correct verbage, and emphasize our once friendly greetings with an air of indignation. As a mom, I have tiptoed along the front lines of this warzone. Playdates after Thanksgiving naturally invite conversation about holiday plans, hard to find gifts, and whether or not Santa and Jesus should share a byline in our Christmas traditions. All sides of the controversy are represented even in a small collective, and all sides feel the need to defend and promote their position.

So we war.

A tiny Jesus, wrapped in the soft skin of infancy obviously needs defending against a world of red cups, jolly generous old saints, and ambiguous holiday greetings. Consumerism and greed bare their ugly teeth at this swaddled babe and we raise our fist in outrage.

Have we forgotten that the tiny child birthed long ago is not God reduced, but God voluntarily restrained [1]?nativity.jpg

He did not come to us weak, hiding away in a forlorn manger, in hopes that our pity be stirred and we flex our human muscles to protect this puny God-child. Choosing to send His ultimate weapon, wrapped in frail human flesh was not God provoking us to stand up and fight. Friends, we had already lost (we lost in Eden). We were owned. Our very DNA under occupation by a force we had readily handed ourselves to.

You see, we were not created to be a king’s army, protecting his interests. We were created as an extension of His love nature, a byproduct of an all-powerful God who by definition is Love. His enemy came after him by attacking His weakest point: us. “…A terrible lie came into the world. It would never leave. It would live in every human heart, whispering to every one of God’s children: ‘God doesn’t love me.’” [The Jesus Storybook Bible]

God stepped into this lie, wrapped in our insubstantial flesh, to join us in our broken and oppressed state.

God with us, Emanuel.

Like a Trojan horse, He moved in next door to defeat the enemy that dwelled inside of us. Our manmade hierarchies, our lists of laws and forced morality, our battle cries and self-righteous indignation had failed. We were God’s enemy.

That is why Mary, teenaged virginal everyday Mary, does not cry out, “I am woman, HEAR ME ROAR!” when her station is flip turned upside down. She doesn’t dig into her stockpiled arsenal to enlist, but gives the trembling victory-cry of a POW seeing her first glimpse of genuine light. She waves the flag of the One who set her free and runs to be protected under his merciful estate.

It is why Simeon leans in to whisper over a week-old baby, “This boy is meant to tear down nations, rend and reap what has long been devastated in darkness. Brace yourself, mama, you’ve just given birth to a Warrior.” [loose paraphrase mine; Luke 2:35]

Christmas is about a war. A war that started in a garden and ended on a hilltop. We still live among the rubble, but as unworthy victors reveling at being set free.

The drummer keeps time not for us to join ranks, but to march in a parade as spoils of war. A parade that calls others out into the streets to gather up piles of mercy—because we all know how parades end: The Big Man is coming, and we don’t want any to miss out.

 

[1] Taken from a sermon by JR Vassar. Click the link to hear the whole thing.

 

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