Stuart Shepard has posted another brilliant "Stoplight" feature in what's become something of a Christmas tradition: a humorous but firm reminder that "The Holiday Season" actually has a name (Christmas) and a meaning (the celebration of the birth of the Son of God and Saviour of all mankind).
I've already started watching out for the "Holiday" catalogues, so I can join in Stuart's activism, but it also got me thinking: in Vancouver, I'd say it's about a 50/50 split between those who celebrate the Unspecified Holiday Season and those who aren't afraid to use the X-word ... about the media and "official civic types" make a big deal about a lot of other, specified, celebrations.
(My daughter's student choir in Victoria -- made up of students from across her public school district -- puts on an actual Christmas concert each year: a couple of years ago, I went to one, which was also attended by the local Member of the Legislature (like a State Senator). She could not spit out the words, "Merry Christmas", if her life depended on it. Her boyfriend and I knew each other from somewhere (something in the media, I think), so we chatted a bit afterwards, and when I wished them a Merry Christmas, it almost felt like I was taunting her. As, indeed, I was. But I digress ...)
There's Vaisakhi for the Sikhs, Ramadan for the Muslims, Pride Week for alternative lifestylers ... a variety of Native Indian rituals ... and recently, kids in public schools got a day off to go to a conference where the Dalai Lama was speaking. You'll see media reports about the color and costumes, the ceremony and activities, without actually digging into the deeper meaning of the celebrations.
Personally, I'd like to know more about and discuss the deeper meaning of those celebrations, but the public treatment I see, while giving the appearance of "embracing other cultures", does have a certain patronizing quality, as if one is simply paying lip service to Quaint Cultural Traditions.
Maybe it's not such a bad thing that the celebration of the birth of the Saviour of all mankind has not been reduced to a Quaint Cultural Tradition -- say, a Page 3 photo spread of "Catholics Attend Midnight Mass At Holy Rosary Cathedral while Worship Team Rocks Up 'Joy To The World' at Sword of Zion Pentecostal Church"? "Stock brokers and lawyers in their traditional business attire gather for a noontime prayer meeting"? "Homeless people and drug addicts wear their traditional costumes -- donated, used clothes and new-to-them underwear for a Christmas dinner at Gospel Mission on Vancouver's Downtown East Side"?
Consider this: there's no real "traditional Christian costume", because when you "put on Jesus", as the Apostle Paul puts it, we wear Him on the inside.
Jesus told us there'd be days like this: days when we'd feel persecuted for our faith or feel like we're all alone. As Graham Cooke said in a message recently, one person, plus God, is always in the majority.
Something we have to remember is that the promotion of other cultures and religions has grown out of a worldly concept of "inclusivity", while Jesus is inclusivity: He came for everyone, and His last instructions to us were to be His witnesses all over the world. That doesn't take a PR department or having "the ear" of elected representatives: we are Jesus' PR department. By our lives, by our love, by our fruits -- by healing the sick, binding the brokenhearted and giving comfort to the poor -- we Christians should give others cause to celebrate Jesus, no matter what the catalogues say.