But now... with more learning and more life, I smile sweetly and take the initiative: "Merry Christmas!" And, more often than not, the immediate response is shock... or awe... and then often a kind of relief, and a return smile: "Merry Christmas to you too," and today, "God bless you!"
My 'Merry Christmas' greetings have become, for me, a blessing of my postmodern world. My world, my culture, my land is forgetting the power in the Name, forgetting that the Name was spoken into the night long ago for healing. And as we have forgotten this Name, we have lost that healing...
So now I bless people with 'Merry Christmas!'
Some are shocked, but I usually see the echo of the Name in their eyes before I leave their presence.
James Lileks writes of this 'shock' phenomenon [hat tip, Instapundit]:
Maybe it's just me. Perhaps I'm overly sensitive. But when I wish a store clerk "Merry Christmas!" they often appear stunned and flummoxed for a moment, as if I've just blabbed the plans for the underground's sabotage of the train tracks in front of the secret police. I've said something highly inappropriate for the public square, and I almost expect a security guard to take me aside on the way out. . . .
I don't get it. There's this peculiar fear of Christmas that seems to get stronger every year, as if it's the season that dare not speak its name. Check out the U.S. Postal Service Web site: two different stamps for Kwanzaa. One for Eid, two for Hanukkah. Two for non-sectarian "Holiday," with pictures of Santa, reindeer, ornaments, that sort of thing. One for the Chinese New Year. One for those religiously inclined -- it features a Madonna and Child. But the Web site calls it "Holiday Traditional." The word "Christmas" doesn't appear on the site's description of the stamps. Eid, yes. Hanukkah, yes. Kwanzaa, yes. Christmas? No. It's Holiday Traditional.
Indeed. As I've seen more of that, my resolve has steeled: I say the Name.
It's Christmas. I am a Christian. I believe in Jesus Christ. I am celebrating Him.
Those who do not know Him, or hate to hear His name -- even in a title for a Day -- are the ones who most need to hear that Name. In a culture long since post-Christian, it is the quiet and subtle, lived protests that will make a difference.
So I will say, "Merry Christmas" with a smile from my soul, praying for the purity of Christ. And I will live Merry Christmas, so that these words will not be a contradiction...but a pure invitation to a parallel culture, a Kingdom community that lives every day in the Hope of Advent.
So, Merry Christmas, dear reader!
May you know this Christ, and come to celebrate His healing Name...
UPDATE: Thanks to Christopher at Against the Grain for the link. And a very Merry Christmas to you, too, Christopher!
UPDATE: A Jew says, "Merry Christmas" and "Keep it real." Jeff Jacoby money quote:
I enjoy Christmas decorations -- and Christmas music, and the upbeat Christmastime mood -- and I say that as a practicing Jew for whom Dec. 25 has no theological significance at all. I have never celebrated Christmas, but I like seeing my Christian neighbors celebrate it. I like living in a society that makes a big deal out of religious holidays. Far from feeling threatened when the sights and sounds of Christmas surround me each December, I find them reassuring. They reaffirm the importance of the Judeo-Christian culture that has made America so exceptional -- and such a safe and tolerant haven for a religious minority like mine.
Indeed. Eminently logical. Thanks for the support, Jeff!
God bless you...and...Merry Christmas!