Everywhere you turn there is talk of war. If it's not the Syrian War and the resulting refugee crisis then it's the War on Terror happening worldwide. Or here in America- what is front and center in my world is all the talk about the War on Christmas and Christianity. It is really disrupting my Facebook garage sale shopping with my newsfeed being littered with opinions of Christians and non-Christians alike each heavily weighing in on the issues. I still managed to find a spectacular deal on an antique desk today despite everyone's best efforts to divert my attention elsewhere. But I did not leave the world of Facebook unscathed. I saw post after post of opinion after opinion of how Starbucks has single handedly ruined Christmas. And it made me wonder...can Starbucks ruin Christmas? Is Christmas really under attack?
I don't believe a corporation, although this one may have the power to cause people to pay copious amounts of money for meager amounts of coffee, can ruin a day that celebrates the hope of the world made flesh. Despite that, I do believe the war on Christmas is very real and much much more subtle and pervasive than red cups and a greeting of "Happy Holidays". How often do you struggle to have a heart that is full of hope instead of cynical and suspicious? How many times have you wondered if your life has any real purpose or meaning? Do you struggle with the senseless tragedy you see all around you and wonder how any good can come from it or if prayer really works? This is the war on Christmas- the war for your heart. The war to lay down your hope and give in to the the hopelessness of this age. The problem is we cannot win a war that we don't even know we are in.
I was watching TV with my daughter, Halle, a few days ago and a commercial came on that had people Christmas shopping and caroling and decorating- basically doing all things Christmas. When it went off, Halle looked at me and said, "Wow. The expectations for Christmas are really ridiculous." I asked her what she meant and she explained, "No one is that happy doing Christmas stuff. I mean, have you seen dad when he's putting up the lights?" We had a good laugh about it but it made me think about how true her observation was. Culturally we have created all these expectations about the "perfect" Christmas- not just what that means for us but what it requires of the world around us. "Everyone must celebrate Jesus like we do or they've ruined Christmas" is the mindset. Where is the reality in that? And what's more- where is the Truth? When Jesus came- He came quietly and for the most part unobserved. A few heard and came and worshipped but most had no idea that the Savior of the world had been born in Bethlehem. But the seekers found Him and worshipped Him and they went out to tell the world- not how they should worship but Who they should worship- the Messiah who had come to rescue them. The same is still true today- as Christmas approaches few know the true meaning of Christmas- few will come to bow down and worship in the quiet stable, but those of us who do are privileged. We know who He is and why He came and our honor, our commission, is to leave the place of worship and tell the weary, waiting world why they have reason to rejoice- not how to rejoice or when to rejoice- but Who is cause for rejoicing. The rest is between them and Jesus.
I have some dear friends who struggle at Christmastime. They have suffered terrible tragedies and this time of year the loss and pain is even more tangible. Another sweet friend is sad at Christmas every year and she's not sure why. She struggles to enter into the joy and excitement of the season. I watch them as they fight for their hearts to remain full of hope in a season that for them is so full of sorrow. I see them and I see the meaning of Christmas. Because this pain and this sorrow is why He came. He came to heal the broken-hearted and restore what has been lost. He came to Father us and comfort us. He came to rescue us all from the sin and brokenness- from the war we live in. If you struggle in this season- don't let the enemy heap shame on you but take the suffering in your heart to your Suffering Savior and let Him be your comfort and the keeper of your heart in this time.
Because while the enemy assaults our hearts and our hope of Christmas- the God of Angel Armies has waged the greatest act of war this world has ever seen- He infiltrated enemy territory with the least likely of agents...a tiny baby who came helpless and vulnerable, born into a world ravaged by war, destined to die for the salvation of us all. So as we celebrate Christmas with all its tinsel and lights and packaging- let's never lose sight of why He came or how He came or who He came for. In this place of quiet adoration - we fight back against the war on Christmas- against the war for our hearts- and we worship the King who has come to rescue us all.