Christmas season is here and with it another slate of holiday controversies. Should people say, “Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas” and the usual “Xmas” controversial saga? Although December 25 is not the actual day Christ was born, Christians will fight to the end to claim ownership of this date. Truth is, other holidays also occur in December such as HumanLight, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah to name a few. Each of these deserves to be acknowledged and respected.
The latest holiday uproar stems from Robious Middle School in Virginia. Administrators have removed any songs that mention Jesus from the annual school Christmas concert. According to David Allen, the school’s choir director, the change was made in the spirit of sensitivity and inclusivity toward a more diverse student body. When speaking of the changes to the winter concert program, Allen stated:
We had a few students who weren’t comfortable singing a piece I have done many times in the past, but it is of a sacred nature and does mention Jesus. It just seems like … everywhere you look everyone’s afraid of stepping on someone’s toes or everything is being so sensitive. They were unable to [sing this song] because the word Jesus was in there and apparently someone assumed it was of a sacred nature. I’m trying to rationalize how you can encourage diversity and yet be exclusionary in one specific area.
Unsurprisingly, the incident has provoked outrage in conservative religious circles. They want to know how Jesus can be taken from his own celebration. Many of the people who want to “put Christ back in Christmas” must have forgotten Christ was not an original ingredient of this season. The early Christians adopted the birth of Christ into the pagan holidays of the time in order to continue the festivities and celebrations without ignoring the Christian religion.
This is not the first time the so-called “War on Christmas” has found its way into the public school system. In December 2016, a Texas judge ordered a school to restore a “Charlie Brown Christmas” display after officials had it removed because it featured a Bible verse. Many complained about the decision, and the school ultimately gave in and put the display back up.
However, it seems clear now that each new story about Christian symbols or references being banned from the public square will only serve to reinforce the belief held by conservative religious groups that their faith is under attack. After all, wars cannot be fought without ammunition. The battleground may change, but the seasonal debates remain the same.
Christians are admonished to share the love of Christ to everyone. Why is it so difficult with the celebration of Christ’s birth? Not all people celebrate the season the same. Given this truth, “What would Jesus do?” According to the sacred text, he would want people to display loving behavior toward everyone — especially if they are different. The holidays are a time of joy, and getting worked up over a concert is not a great display of kindness.
America is more culturally and religiously diverse than ever before. Instead of embracing another opportunity to walk in love, many would rather argue a ridiculous point of view. After learning of the debate, Rev. Robert Barker said:
Those Christians who want to sing and/or hear sacred Christmas music can do so in their churches or their own homes. Public schools, who serve all people of every religion, or none (as more and more people describe themselves) is not the place for Christian celebrations. Put your nativity scenes on your church-owned land or private property as well. Nobody is stopping you and I’ll defend your right to do so, even though I don’t share your faith. And if Christians want to keep Christ in their Christmas then let them feed the hungry, visit the sick or imprisoned, help the widow and orphan in their need, etc.
The fact is, a lot of Christians are so focused on Heaven that they have no relationship with or understanding of “others” which they are “sent” to evangelize. For the most part, their circle of friends only includes Christians. Their lives are often overly populated with Christian paraphernalia such as t-shirts, symbols, and stickers, and crosses around their necks while ignoring the commandment be a living demonstration of love to others.
With all of the drama surrounding the holiday season, these efforts could better be used to find ways of loving the unchurched and uniting the divided church. A major contradiction to the birth of Jesus is the absence of love. His love embraces those not like him and even those who oppose him.
It does not matter how you choose to greet one another during this season, whether Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, Seasons Greetings, Happy Holidays or Happy Xmas, do not forget to the joy of the season. Make sure it reflects the love of Jesus and is a time of love, peace, caring, and sharing.
Opinion by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
Red State: Virginia School Bans Jesus For Christmas
TFP Student Action: School BANS Jesus from Christmas Concert to be More “Sensitive”
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