Even though last year’s Pew poll reported that 42% of Americans don’t care whether they’re greeted with “Merry Christmas” vs. “Happy Holidays,” There remains in spots considerable angst about the battle of seasonal felicitations.
While I’m not terribly interested in the real or imagined rancor surrounding this little issue, I propose that we seize this controversy as an opportunity to learn something about what really happened in this season so long ago.
As a few very loud liberal non-theists continue to demand the wholesale substitution of the phrase “Happy Holidays” for “Merry Christmas,” I’d like to answer by repurposing some advice from my favorite author: G.K. Chesterton.
“A holiday, like liberalism, only means the liberty of man. A miracle only means the liberty of God.”
But what does the “liberal’s” phrase mean? Some reduce their greeting to just the flaccid, politically correct version of the proper “Merry Christmas”. Others say the non-theist is confused when he stutteringly ascribes holiness to a day (holy-day … holiday) in staunch effort to avoid the fricative sounds of the word “Christ”.
I say that if a holiday is the liberty of man, and a miracle is the liberty of God, and this season we should lift our minds to think about both. I say Christmas is a day when the liberties of God and man truly intersect, because on that first Christmas day the Son of God became the Son of man. The significance of this advent event cannot be underestimated, because when the infinite enters the finite it’s like an ocean entering into a shot glass.
That first Christmas was a day when God took the liberty to pour the wine of Heavenly vineyards into the veins of terrestrial flesh. It is a day we remember that the royal crown of a deity becomes the squishy fontanel of a baby, as the Word became flesh and began to dwell among us.
The storied Lamb of God who is said to take away the sins of the world, entered into the scatological minutia of that world through the portal of a stable in the little town of Bethlehem Ephrata.
The blessed soul of a virgin magnified the Lord, then her womb conceived without the aid of a man (and you’d think the feminists would cheer), becoming the ark of a new promise whose name would be called simply: “Jesus”.
The child, born on that silent night, has come to be known by many strident names like “Lion of Judah,” and “King of kings.” But that night He tumbled into history head first with only a whimper in a stable … because there was no room for Him in the inn.
Hark! The herald angels’ song!
A hero’s come to right all wrong.
And that night a new star shone
… with a tail as long as a kite.
Though that holy night, being the winter solstice was the longest/darkest night of the year, the dominance of the solstice’s darkness was challenged in truly epic fashion by the effulgent light of a new star … and the proud cult of Natalis Invicti has been outshined ever since.
But this star, which has been enshrined in song, was merely a quiet announcement of the light of the world which no darkness would be able to overcome.
From that day to this one, men have sought to find this fabled light, this legendary man … some to kneel in adoration, some to nail in crucifixion. And to each he answers “I am He, Seek and you shall find.” May we find Christ in this Christmas.
And so the moral of the story is: Christmas is a day where the liberty of God becomes the liberty of man…where a “Miracle” becomes a “Holiday” … And a happy holiday it is!