If you think 2020 has been quite the year, we’re not through with it yet! Christmas season is upon us and don’t think that the last few days of December will just slide by without incident. To quote Alice in Wonderland, “curiouser and curiouser” is an appropriate yet grammatically incorrect observation. It was just a few years ago when the phrase Merry Christmas was said to be on the chopping block with 12 days of lawsuits clamping down on everything from Christmas plays to Nativity displays in town after town. Ah, the Grinch was in rare form.
Last week while campaigning in Georgia in an attempt to secure Republican Senator’s seats, President Donald Trump shared with an enthusiastic crowd: “Let me begin by wishing you all a very Merry Christmas. Remember the word? Remember we started five years ago and I said, ‘You’re going to be saying Christmas again,’ and we say it proudly again. Although they’ll be trying to take that word again out of the vocabulary. We’re not going to let them do that.”
We haven’t, and Christmas has flourished… then came 2020! Last week, Attorney General Dana Nessel of Michigan tweeted, “I remember the first time I was at a store with my son and an employee said ‘Merry Christmas’ to us. My son looked devastated and asked, ‘Are we the only people who don’t celebrate Christmas? But the now-deleted tweet brought an onslaught of responses chiding the AG for her disparagement of “Merry Christmas.”
Mikaela Mathews of ChristianHeadlines.com shared, “A follower told Nessel in response: “Being offended is a choice. If you’re offended by an expression of goodwill, that’s your problem. If someone wishes me Happy Hanukkah or Ramadan I just say thanks as it’s said with good intentions. Asking people of faith to not use these is telling them to hide their faith. Nope.” Another was confused how the greetings could cause such harm. “There are only 2 holidays in December. I say Happy Hanukah to my Jewish friends and Merry Christmas to my Christian friends. I belong to neither religion, but somehow I manage these small gestures to goodwill without severe damage to my psyche.”
Then there is the wondrous case of the “WOKE” Santa. A mall Santa Clause in Illinois felt compelled to hand a little boy who asked for a gun “nerf gun to be exact” a firm NO accompanied with a brief anti-NRAish lecture in his little lap. The video of this little boy crying in his mother’s arms is heartbreaking. How’s that for a yuletide attitude! Fortunately, the mall responded with a new and improved Santa Clause who visited his home with a few nice nerf guns in his sleigh. Now that’s the Christmas spirit! The other Santa was relieved of his duties and now cleans reindeer stalls in an undisclosed sub-zero location!
The year 2020 can change a lot of things, but not the message of the manger! As I write this, Terri and I just arrived home after two eventful days in Washington DC which was capped off last night with a very special Christmas event at the home of the Vice President Mike Pence and second Lady Karen Pence. There was music and the most beautiful decorations in a setting filled with the greatest Americans I have met and worked with around the country in the last few years. Picture the setting, The United States Naval Observatory decorated for Christmas and then the Vice President read to us from Luke’s Gospel and Chapter 2… “And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.” As he closed his remarks he reminded each of us always seek what the shepherds sought. The Christ of Christmas! How about that, the Vice President of the United States sharing the Word of God and a Christmas message! This unique and challenging year changed a lot, but nothing will ever change the message of the manger. Merry Christmas!
Tim Throckmorton is the Midwest Director of Ministry for the Family Research Council