Have you ever heard of the “Lemon test?” It’s been a part of American jurisprudence since 1971 when the Supreme Court designed it as a way to deal with cases about the government’s involvement in religious speech. The Lemon test came to be used as a way to restrict Christmas displays from public property because of their religious content.
Yet, Christmas is a federal & state holiday. The name of “Christ” is right there in the name of the holiday. So last year, the high court canceled that precedent in favor of a new practice that looks at “historical practices and understandings about the holiday.” This ruling struck down censorship of Christian viewpoints. So Americans have freedom to once again celebrate Christmas in the public square (including schools) with Christian symbols, including Nativity scenes. So we won! But did we?
Many efforts have already succeeded in scrubbing the spiritual meaning of Christmas, stripping it of Christian themes, & canceling Christ Himself. This presents a dilemma in what is now an America where biblical Christianity is no longer the majority view. The meaning of Christmas used to be generally acknowledged by everyone. But times have changed.
This Christian “holy-day” has been taken over & largely been made a mockery. It’s used as an excuse for boozy office parties & sugary weight gain. It’s used as justification for splurging on excessive materialism. Retailers pander to us by using the name of our Savior to make money & get their annual sales figures into the black financially. When sales at car dealerships, hardware stores, & tobacco shops get tangled up with Jesus, something’s gone wrong.
The most popular Christmas songs have nothing to do with Christ. “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee 65 years ago made news for finally reaching the #1 spot on the charts, displacing (thankfully!) the reigning favorite, “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey. By the way, the “You” in that song is not Christ. “White Christmas” & the chestnuts-roasting-on-an-open-fire song have nothing to do with the birth of our Lord. The most popular Christmas movies have nothing to do with Jesus either, from “Miracle on 34th St.” to “Elf” to “A Christmas Story.” And don’t even get me started on “Die Hard” or all the cheesy romantic Hallmark movies. And what do kids know about Christmas? They know Santa, Rudolph, & Frosty. But do they know about Jesus? Even some churches have succumbed to stressing the sentimentality & spectacle of Santa-centric celebrations.
Remember when Will Smith smacked Chris Rock because he made a joke about his wife? He yelled, “Keep my wife’s name out of your mouth!!” I’m almost feeling the same way about the name of Christ being used in such a blasphemous way by the secular culture. I don’t want His name used to promote this commercialized, frivolous fake holiday anymore. I doubt He wants that either. I don’t want my Savior’s name associated with it. Just stop. Only we Christians know how to celebrate the entry of God into the world the way it should be.
I know it’s an unpopular opinion, but don’t get me wrong–I’m glad we have a holiday about the birth of Christ! I’m not being Grinchy about the holiday itself, but about what the holiday has evolved into. What are we celebrating, really? Why am I getting so caught up in this holiday that’s been ripped of any transcendent meaning? Why are we trying to “force” Christ back into what is clearly no longer a real celebration about Him? All these secular things can be fun, but why have we gone along with it all to the point that we have to fight to “keep Christ in Christmas?” Maybe it’s time to hoist up the white flag & let the culture have this Winter Solstice Santafest so Christians can get back to being the ones who really use the name of Christ correctly.
Actually, the Grinch wasn’t wrong with being annoyed with all the noise & nonsense of Christmas. But he was annoyed for the wrong reason. He assumed it was all based on the externals of toys & feasting. So he tried to stop Christmas from coming by stealing all the Whos’ decorations, presents & food. Yet, the Whos still gathered & sang. What was there to sing about? In the cartoon version, it was hymn-like, welcoming Christmas Day to bring its cheer & light. Then we see a shining star in their midst. Christians understand that the star represents the birth in Bethlehem. I think the Grinch finally understood that too. He realized “maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
Maybe if our Whoville were to see Christians celebrating without so much noise & nonsense, they’d finally have their own Grinch awakening too.