I am one of those people who strongly resists playing Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. Don’t get me wrong…I love Christmas music. But I can only handle one holiday at a time, and when Christmas creeps earlier and earlier, it kind of dilutes the depth and meaning of the Advent season for me.
But beginning the day after Thanksgiving? The Christmas music playlists crank up at our home and in my office, and I’m “all in” on the season.
I had to laugh a bit this morning when I opened up my music player and typed “Christmas” into the search box, and all of the different Christmas music “stations” on my player opened up. There are, of course, a ton of different options. I could choose between:
- Pop Christmas
- Instrumental Christmas
- Country Christmas
- Classical Christmas
- Jazz Christmas
- Relaxing Christmas
- Indie Christmas
- Alternative Christmas
- Christmas for Kids
- Christmas Favorites
- Christmas Classics
- Christmas Party Music
- Soulful Christmas
- Latin Christmas
And my favorite: “Christian Christmas.”
Now to be fair, I know what they mean. They are talking about music performed by artists in the “Christian Music” genre. Groups like Mercy Me, Steven Curtis Chapman and Switchfoot.
But as a person who follows Jesus, the distinction made me smile. As far as I can tell, “Christ” is still the first syllable of the word Christmas, regardless of the kind of Christmas we’re talking about.
I think it’s emblematic of a different issue, however. In our culture, we talk about how Christ is being separated from Christmas; about how Christmas loses its meaning. In fact, some commentators have gone so far as to claim that there is a “war on Christmas.”
While I too am not a fan of the rampant consumerism or commercialism that seems to surround Christmas, I am not concerned about Christmas somehow losing Christ. I don’t think God is too concerned either. God knows that we don’t have that kind of power.
And I think that when a person chooses to say “happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” it’s not an attack on Christianity…rather it’s that person’s attempt to be welcoming and hospitable to all, without making the assumption that they share the same set of beliefs.
And when controversies pop up about what Starbucks prints on their coffee cups, or if nativity scenes can be on public property, it doesn’t mean that a corporate entity, or the court system, is trying to erase our sacred celebration. I’m just glad that they are acknowledging that during this time of year, there is something different for us to recognize.
Christmas cannot be separated from Jesus Christ, any more than God can be separated from any of God’s creation. Romans 8 makes the audacious claim that” “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
This Advent season, let’s focus not on what is said, and on who says it; rather let’s focus on what we say and how we live. Because it is our words and actions that witness to the love of God and the light in the darkness that comes through the Baby Jesus. And we await that gift with great anticipation.