The secret to winning the Christmas wars

AP A young woman takes a close look at a Christmas decoration set up at Lisbon’s main Rossio square on … Continued

AP

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?


View Photo Gallery: The first family participates in the ceremony outside the White House on Thursday night.

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.

  • Jung1977

    The secret to winning won’t solve much of anything.

    Calling for a cease fire doesn’t change the fact that over $450 billion is spent on Christmas every year, when much less than that could help solve basic issues like hunger and thirst worldwide.

    I think more of a Christmas war needs to be called toward Christians who are ignoring the least of these and serving a kingdom of MORE instead of the Kingdom of God.

  • SODDI

    So it’s “peacemaking” if we all would only do it your christian way.

    How’s this – don’t put your religious displays on public land. That should work.

  • FYIColumbiaMD

    “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.”

    It’s notable that you neglected to mention that the performance was at a local church – not some local theater. My guess is that if the field trip had instead been to a synagogue to attend a Hanukkah-based play or (heaven forbid) to a mosque to attend a Ramadan-based play, there would have been even louder gnashing of teeth.

    Taking an elementary school on a field trip to a church, synagogue or mosque is always challenging – regardless of the season. Balancing the educational value with the religious entanglement didn’t appear to be a concern of the administration – and it should have been.

  • AMSHANE

    still doesn’t take care of the rumblings beneath the surface. When has sweeping things under the rug taken care of anything?

  • Catken1

    Nobody’s sweeping anything under the rug. Christian celebrations are going on loudly, visibly, and freely on private property, as they ought to be.

  • ph238

    It is simply outrageous that in a society where 90% of the citizens are at least nominally Christian it is considered controversial or even offensive to celebrate the holiday in public. If I moved to Israel I wouldn’t demand that all public reminders of Judaism be removed from sight on pain of ‘offending’ me. In a small number of cases there are valid church-state concerns. But this does not explain why even Sean Hannity now bends over backwards not be “offensive.” Even worse is the all-secular version of Christmas that keeps Santa but outlaws all mention of Jesus. All the joy has been taken out of the holiday by a small but powerful minority.

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