The month of December every year brings about some drama revolving around Christians, Christmas, and holidays.
For a while, it was insensitive to say “Merry Christmas.” Corporations quit sending out cards to their clientele that had pictures of mangers and stars of Bethlehem. Instead they sent out cards with Santa and reindeer.
Retail giants trained their employees to respond with “Happy Holidays,” so as not to offend shoppers. They felt “Happy Holidays” was more inclusive, because it included Jews (Hanukkah), African Americans (Kwanzaa), and didn’t exclude those without December holy days. Masses of people were then offended by their supposed stance against Christianity and the Christian community started rallying around, forcefully saying “Merry Christmas” in a more derisive, in-your-face manner. The typical exchange was of a cashier sweetly saying “Happy Holidays” to receive a “Merry Christmas” yelled back at them as spittle sprayed them in the face. That doesn’t seem so merry, if you ask me.
There has to be a better way to handle this as we enter the shopping season. How can we display the love of Christ, bring some welcome attention to Him, and even use this holiday as a way to open door for conversation and evangelism? This is the only time in the entire year where massive amounts of the community are singing hymns regularly, hearing the story of Jesus’ birth, and seeing representations that will remind them of Biblical stories. There has to be a way to use this to bring glory to God.
Handled gently, maybe we can start conversations (not arguments) about the timing of Jesus’ birth. We can see from the details and from history that it most likely was not in December. We don’t know exactly when He was born, but it does make for an interesting topic to discuss. Invite others to discuss this with you over coffee and with a Bible.
Maybe we can help people see how difficult the birth of Jesus would have been. This is part of the story of suffering, as Mary would have been an outcast, Joseph the same, and Jesus would have been seen as an illegitimate child. The birth story itself is ugly, painful, and embarrassing. If we want to teach people about a “suffering Savior,” why not start with this story we’re all singing about this month?
Maybe our discussion can be on the amazing differences between the three holidays celebrated this month. Hanukkah celebrates God’s provision to the Israelites during a time of war. Kwanzaa celebrates African heritage for a displaced people. Jesus was God’s provision and was displaced from His home so that He could save us. Pieces of His story are found in the elements of both of the other holidays.
Regardless of your angle, God has given us a gift during the month of December. It is the gift of open doors. As you talk to non-believing family and friends, take advantage of these open doors to fruitful conversation. Instead of letting December be a month of drama, let it be a month of “peace and joy and good will among men.”
Disclaimer - while I am arguing that this month is a great opportunity for evangelistic discussion, I am not saying that we should or that it is Biblical to celebrate Christmas in a religious manner. I leave that decision up to you.