“Jesus is the reason for the season!”
If your faith position sits nowhere near Jesus, this slogan is simply irritating. If you do believe that Jesus is who he said he was, you might argue he is the reason for every season (and may still find said rhyme off-putting).
Either way, when we’re discussing whether Jesus is the reason for Christmas in particular, I don’t see why some people hold on to it so tightly. To me, if Jesus is going to be “the reason” for any season, it should be Easter, as the crucifixion is exponentially more meaningful to the Jesus-believer.
History tells us that the Christmas celebration arose as a social/political decision to ease Roman society into the idea of practising Christianity. Since citizens were already used to celebrating winter solstice (on December 25), leaders wanted to keep up the good vibes, replacing a pagan holiday with a birthday party.
Does that mean Jesus birth should be irrelevant to his followers? No. But I think it does mean we need to keep Jesus’ significance on December 25th in perspective.
Today, I read about a group of Christians who are boycotting stores (i.e. Best Buy, Gap, Banana Republic) that don’t wish customers a Merry Christmas, as it disrespects Christianity, and by extension, Jesus himself (see http://standforchristmas.com/). These consumers are leveraging their buying power to make a point: it’s Jesus’ way or no way.
(As an aside, something tells me Jesus isn’t particularly concerned over what a sales associate from what store did or did not acknowledge his fake birthday, as people actively ignore the needs of others by loading up carts with stuff the children of the western world don’t really need.)
Within rhetoric about Christmas being under attack, I hear the fear of loss of control. Fundamentalists represent one gigantic block of consumers, voters and decision makers. Whether people like it or not, they are a force to be reckoned with. And from what I gather, they like it that way. When fundamentalists hear Happy Holidays, or that the President might have a Muslim in his family, or that prayer shouldn’t exist in schools, it threatens their ability to live comfortably in a bubble place where their way of life is the norm.
To that, I have two questions (and a sub-question) for those who demand respect for Christmas. First, did Jesus come to the world to build a population that extinguishes or suppresses every other world view out there by asserting social, political or economic dominance? Second, did Jesus promise his followers a life without persecution (not that saying ‘Happy Holidays’ is persecution)? If not, why do Christians go out of their way to protect themselves from it?
I believe Christmas is a wonderful time for family, friends and yes, worship. But I also believe that worship should be peaceful, personal and practiced year round.