Monday, November 9, 2015

Welcome to the Party

It's that time of the year again--there is a chill in the air and people are looking forward to the winter holidays.  You know, New Years, Thanksgiving, and It's-My-Christmas-Not-Your-Happy-Holidays.

Yes, the "War on Christmas" has begun and I haven't even finished putting away my Halloween decorations, yet.

Things have already reached a fevered pitch--some people plan on boycotting Starbucks because their traditional red cups do not have a Christmas motif on them this year. Because....?  Snowflakes are a secret code for "Christ is born"? (I must have missed that day in parochial school.)

I understand that people object to their holiest of celebrations being made into something less. (I mean, were are talking about the birth of a savior here.)  I agree the whole thing has turned into a over-blown commercial frenzy and often leads to more stress than fellowship. Yes, Christians claim this holiday as their own and want to keep it focused on the "reason for the season" which is a wonderful intention.

However (you knew it was coming, right?):
1) Not everyone in this country is Christian--and that's okay.
2) Why can't non-Christians celebrate a general holiday season?  And why can't governments and retailers and Starbucks invite them to join in the spirit?

Let's say all your friends are going to a birthday party and suggest you come too.  You're not friend-friends with the guest of honor, but your everyone tells you to come anyway.  You show up at the house and the birthday boy answers the door, but won't let you in unless you know the secret password.  Your friends all tell you it's "New England Patriots Rule" but you just can't manage to utter such a thing.  So you are turned away from the party and all your other  football-fan friends act smug as you go home alone.

Or, let's say Jesus is having a birthday party and invites everyone to celebrate with him.  You are not yourself a follower, but your friends assure you it's cool.  You show up at the house and Jesus answers the door.  He might ask you to wipe your feet, but do you suppose he insists you wish him a happy birthday?  Does he check for your Christian membership card?  Or does he welcome you to the party and tell you where the wine is? (Made fresh today!)

The point is Jesus was all about including everyone--children, lepers, and tax collectors.  No one needed a secret code word, no one needed a membership card, everyone was invited.  Why would we insist that Buddhists/atheists/Muslims/People who like to say "Happy Holidays" can't come to our party?

So you can wish me happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, or Festivus.  I may reply in kind, or I may wish you a Merry Christmas.  I like to think what we are actually saying to each other is "Welcome to the party! (The wine is in the back.)"