You Too

There is still time left in the season to say, "Merry Christmas!" In just a few short hours, the long anticipated day will come and go, and the opportunity to greet people with these two words will settle down for an eleven month long nap.

A few years ago, I began to challenge people to say, "Merry Christmas." I had done some anecdotal analysis, and come to the conclusion that the words were losing their popularity even among Christians. They had been pushed off the scene by generic substitutes, "Happy Holidays!", "Season's Greetings!", and the like. I don't think the atheists in this part of the country are ever going to win the battle for the use of "Winter Solstice." Who can spell it?

Another personal discovery that I found interesting was the benign backlash that this greeting seemed to produce. Upon hearing, "Merry Christmas" people often responded with a mealy mouthed, and modestly mediocre, "You too!" It was a one-sided greeting to be sure. Such tepid response revealed that my effort in introducing Christ back into Christmas stirred more confusion than conviction.

Again, most of my experience for the past 35 years has been in the local church. This is a place where cradles, cantatas, candlelight carols, and crashing camels still reign supreme at this time of year. Alot of effort goes into these pageants, and programs to make sure the message is loud and clear, "Jesus is the reason for the season." Hopefully, the people they influence will get out from under the camel, go out of the auditorium with an understanding and an appreciation for what God did when He sent His Son into the world to be a Savior that could cleanse people from their sin. What a waste of time if it does not create a warm hearted desire to wish God's best on someone else this time of year with a gentle, and simple, "Merry Christmas!"

I am on my annual Christmas Crusade to challenge Christians to add two words to their vocabulary this year, and to get rid of two more. You may have already guessed what the first two words are. That's right. I encourage Christ followers to say, "Merry Christmas!" The other two words I encourage them to refrain from using are, "You too!" To say that this is an unacceptable response from someone who has been blessed may be an understatement. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, "It is the least we can do."

Now, don't get me wrong. The spirit of this greeting is the key to its impact on the intended receiver. It is not enough to shout it out like a battle cry of defiance in the face of those who we hate for not using it. When people use it as a shout out to atheists to bully them to get with the program, it just sounds like, "Go to hell." In other words, it loses alot in the translation.

I believe the purpose of celebrating Christmas and Easter are very close to the purpose of salt and light, characteristics of the kind of followers that please Jesus so much. For people who have never had a taste of salt, a little dab with do you. For those who have been in the dark, a bright light is more blinding than illuminating. Let your greeting to those who may not share your passion be firm, and unapologetic. Let it also be graced with the reminder that, except for the grace of God you would be sitting in the dark with a bland taste in your mouth.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.