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A young woman takes a close look at a Christmas decoration set up at Lisbon’s main Rossio square on Dec. 5 2012.
On Monday, David Sessions of Newsweek boldly declared, “The War on Christmas Is Over.” For years there have been signs “the war on Christmas is running out of ammunition,” he said. Google Trends shows a peak in news articles covering Christmas clashes in 2005. The ultimate holiday barometer, the State Journal-Register of Springfield, Ill., hasn’t received any letters about the “War on Christmas” since 2007. Conservative television host Sean Hannity of Fox News even wished his listeners “Happy Holidays” last week.
So the battle is finally over? Not so fast.
Within a few hours of Hannity’s holiday herald, Fox News reported the latest battle on Christmas just broke out in the capital of Arkansas where the ammunition wasn’t aimed toward Jesus, Joseph or Mary, but Charlie Brown.
After Little Rock’s Terry Elementary School scheduled a field trip for some of its students to attend a matinee of “Merry Christmas Charlie Brown,” some parents of students received a note warning that the production would expose their children to Christianity. In case you’ve forgotten, the holiday classic concludes with Linus reading the Nativity story from Luke’s gospel.
Many students looked forward to the outing, but after one atheist parent argued the event violated the separation of church and state, the trip was cancelled proving that the war on Christmas still rages on.
Will these Christmas wars ever end?
Maybe the key is learning to put our guns and ammo down to put an end to the Christmas wars once and for all. Maybe it’s time to abide by the words of that manger-born Savior who suggested that peacemakers were among the most blessed ones (Luke 5:9). Perhaps then we could recapture the sense of wonder that should saturate this season.
From the announcement of Christ’s arrival, His miracle-studded birth, and throughout His powerful life, ministry, death, and resurrection, the Scriptures attest that those who encountered Christ were taken back with a deep sense of wonder.
Wonder had a way of hushing the naysayer, shifting hearts, and stimulating active minds. Yet those waging the war on Christmas choose different ammunition. They often try to win on principle, narrow legal definitions, and the power of their munitions. Jesus didn’t enter this world with blazing guns of glory, so why would anyone think we’d celebrate His birth with them?
Maybe it’s time to put down the ammo and call a permanent truce on Christmas Eve—that time of the year when those who want nothing to do with church are dragged by the sleeves of their ugly Christmas sweaters back into the pews by the ebullient aunt or the sweet but fierce grandmother who refuses to take “no” for an answer when it comes to a candlelight service.
Gathered together—the faithful along with the “enemy” in the Christmas wars all pressed together—we learn to engage in the holiday together. Sing familiar carols. Retell the Christmas story. Watch kids wriggle in uncomfortably cute outfits. Light the candles. Watch wax slowly melt. Remember the one who illuminates darkness.
All eyes are fixed on an infant boy, we remember the One who calls us together. And maybe that remembrance can help us all capture the wonder, the peace, the joy—not just once a year but for a lifetime. If you’re tired of the “Christmas wars” hijacking the holiday, then join me in calling for a ceasefire so we can recapture the wonder this season deserves.
Margaret Feinberg is a popular speaker and author of “Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God,” which will be released on Christmas Day. Become a fan on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @mafeinberg.