Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Is “Happy Holidays” a Dirty Word (or two)?

Monday, December 5th, 2011 by JEL

The holiday season is upon us, shopping is in full swing, the house decoration contests have begun, and we just got our first Christmas card of the year. Which means soon the media will be filled with stories about the “attack on Christmas.” You know, all those terrible people who greet you with “Happy Holidays” because, well, they just might want to be inclusive.

Anyway, for all those people who get their undies in a knot over “HH” vs. “MC,” please read this great post from Jennifer McGrail’s “The Path Less Taken:”

The only one who can take your Christ out of your Christmas is you.

How do you take Christ out of Christmas?  You take Christ out of Christmas every time you:

Don’t take the high road.

Are less than loving, and patient, and kind.

Gossip, complain about, and judge others.

Are slow to listen and quick to anger.

And yes…. grump and moan and cry about everyone taking Christ out of Christmas, instead of simply showing the people kindness and goodwill and grace, and letting them see through your actions that Christ cannot be taken out of your Christmas because Christ is living in you.  No one can take that away from you, no matter what they believe or what they celebrate or WHY they celebrate.

The post is terrific from start to finish, so please read the whole thing.

Christmas…for Everyone

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010 by JEL

Before I head off for our annual Christmas break, I wanted to create one more post. Christmas is a season for many things: families and friends gathering, over-eating, purchasing and exchanging gifts, and talking about the sanctity of “Merry Christmas” against the rising tide of the supposedly militant “Happy Holidays.”

Take a breath and simply enjoy. The gifts are wrapped, the roast is in the oven (or the tofurkey for folks like me), all the hard stuff is done and you find yourself surrounded by people you don’t spend nearly enough time with. Enjoy it.

Here’s a great summation of what I’m trying to say. Holly Stewart eloquently writes:

“Christian or not, we can all learn valuable lessons from the story of Jesus’ birth. Great men and women can emerge from lowly beginnings. Humility is a cleansing force. The redeeming values of faith and love are not to be taken lightly. Devotion is its own reward. Giving is better than receiving.

So celebrate in your way, or not. It’s your holiday. It belongs to everyone. Fortunately for us, Christmas is big enough for the whole world.”

Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Be festive and merry. We’ll be back the week of January 3.

Christian Consumerism

Monday, December 20th, 2010 by JEL

What’s a Christmas season without a post about consumerism? As a person who went through 2009 without buying myself (virtually) anything other than food and energy, this post from Shane Claiborne was really fascinating to me.

Shane is an interesting, funny, charismatic dude. We featured a video of him speaking a few months back, and I always find his message to be relevant and lasered on point. He’s a Red-Letter Christian and works with the homeless in his neighborhood of Philadelphia. Read the whole post, but here’s a snippet to whet your appetite:

“I grew up in the Bible Belt. When I became a Christian, I learned I didn’t have to stop buying stuff — I just had to start buying Christian stuff. An entire world of retail spending possibilities lay before me: the Christian industrial complex. There were Christian t-shirts, bumper stickers, even Christian candy — “testa-mints” — peppermints wrapped in a Bible verse. We were taught “secular” was bad, and supplied with charts that countered popular mainstream bands with a Christian alternative. We burned our old tapes (which is what we listened to back in those days) and went to the Christian albums. We were often sadly disappointed. They just didn’t sound like Metallica. As a friend of mine quipped: “All these Christian artists say, ‘God gave me this song,’ and then you listen to it and know why God gave it away.” I later learned that Christian art doesn’t have to be a mediocre counterfeit of the original. And, I learned that Christianity is not about conforming to the world, but about being transformed by a God who is crazy about the poor, fond of toppling the powerful, and raising the lowly … and who I’m pretty sure would feel conflicted wearing a “God bless Rome” shirt or doting an “Army of One” sticker on the bumper of his SUV… I mean, hybrid. I mean donkey. Never mind.”

AOK Thursday: Giving

Thursday, December 16th, 2010 by JEL

In the spirit of the Christmas season (which, by the way, would be nice all year long), I thought as we’re giving each other gifts, we might re-examine the true meaning of giving. That is, giving to those less fortunate who are really in need. Jesus had something to say about the subject:

“If anyone sues you to take away your coat, let him have your cloak also. Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and don’t turn away him who desires to borrow from you.” – Matthew 5:40-42

Brought to present day, here’s a nice story of a Waukegan waitress who took Jesus’ instructions to heart (whether she knew it or not).

A Holy Tree, Diminished

Monday, December 13th, 2010 by JEL

I never understood vandalism. Knocking over tombstones, smashing mailboxes, breaking windows, it just doesn’t make any sense to me how that can be an enjoyable way to spend your time. My tolerance stops abruptly at about the toilet-papering-trees point.

Last week, vandals got to the Glastonbury Holy Tree in England. Listen to the story:

It’s His Birthday – Get Him What He Wants

Monday, December 6th, 2010 by JEL

Pardon the shameless promotion here, but as you’re scurrying around the Internet and the malls gobbling up presents to fulfill your Christmas shopping lists, I thought you might want to stop a minute.

And think.

Christmas, after all is meant to be a celebration of the birth of Jesus, not a celebration of the glowing credit card. One more plastic toy or electronic doo-dad is not going to make this world a more peaceful and tolerant home for any of us.

If you could sit Jesus down and ask Him what he really wants for his birthday, I’d bet He’d say “To be understood.” We just happen to know of a great gift for everyone on your list that makes His message easier to understand than ever before. Give it a shot >>

A Birthday Wish

Friday, December 25th, 2009 by JEL

So today is the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus. I’m guessing all He wants for His birthday is for all of us to heed these words:

“This is my commandment, that you love one another, even as I have loved you.” – John 15:12

In return, here is the Christmas present we all should accept over the Wii:

“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, give I to you. Don’t let your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful.” – John 14:27

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009 by JEL

I’ve never been one to engage in the Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays debate. It all just seems a bit silly, especially when there are so many other topics to get worked up about. But search the Internet and you’ll see all sorts of examples of people claiming that a simple “Happy Holidays” greeting is an attack on Christianity, itself, while the other side finds “Merry Christmas” an inexcusable intolerance.

Here at What He Said, we just like to say “Merry Christmas.” It’s cheery, jolly, and when else do you get to use the word “merry” throughout the year? Just looking at the word puts me in a better mood. So, Merry Christmas, everyone and you can take that to mean whatever the spirit of the season holds for you.

Faces of Jesus

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009 by JEL

Maybe it’s the spirit of the Christmas season, but people around the globe are seeing the face of Jesus in strange places. A woman in Methuen, MA saw the image of Christ on the bottom of her iron, while Lisa Swinton in Australia discovered His image on a banana peel. They had differing reactions: the iron is being kept in a safe place, but the banana was eaten and the peel thrown away.

Wherever you encounter Jesus, we hope you remember His message of peace and goodwill to all. The world could use a heaping helping of both these days.

Nazareth Uncovered

Monday, December 21st, 2009 by JEL

In the Gospel of Luke (1:26-33) there is an account of the angel Gabriel visiting Mary. Given that we’re only four days away from Christmas, I thought it might be nice to share it here:

Now in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. Having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, you highly favored one! The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women!” But when she saw him, she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered what kind of salutation this might be. The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bring forth a son, and will call his name ‘Jesus.’ He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father, David, and he will reign over over the house of Jacob forever. There will be no end to his Kingdom.”

For those of you trying to picture this scene in your head, archaeologists might be able to lend a hand. They have just discovered the first dwelling in Nazareth dated to the time of Jesus. They describe Nazareth as an “out-of-the-way hamlet of around 50 houses on a patch of about four acres (1.6 hectares). It was evidently populated by Jews of modest means who kept camouflaged grottos to hide from Roman invaders.”