War on Christmas? There are those who complain that failing to put “Christ” into every missive during this season is, somehow, a threat to Christianity and western culture.
Here in Dallas, First Baptist Church, the big one downtown, put up a site tracking businesses (GrinchAlert.com) they deem not sufficiently saved, who manifest their imagined antipathy to Christianity by failing to say “Merry Christmas” at every turn. Some businesses substitute what these busy-body Baptists regard as near pagan rite: “Happy Holidays!” (Sample complaints: “No Christmas Tree, No mangerscene” (sic); “Excessive use of ‘holiday’, no mention of Christmas. With a name like American Airlines, come on.”)
You may roll your eyes now.
Renowned preacher Fred Craddock, in a column in Christian Century, inadvertently reports that it is the self-appointed defenders of overweening Christian-ness themselves who do damage to the cause of Christianity. Everybody is so busy having Christmas, they forget about the Christian tradition, the necessity of Advent. “Forget Advent,” they appear to say, “Have a ‘Merry Christmas,’ or else!” Craddock’s words come here through the bulletin of the Church of the Saviour:
Inward/Outward from Church of the Saviour
Every year for four weeks we wait. Ours is not a passive waiting; we wonder as we wait. We wait in the heavy joy of repentance, which cleanses us to be ready to receive the One Who Comes. We renew baptismal vows. We encourage one another in order to be a community of fresh expectancy.
And we pray, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” and “Come, O Long Expected Jesus.” At times we fuss at God: ”How long, O Lord? How long will you tarry?”
Our generation is impatient. Advent lasts too long. Nasty notes are passed to the choirmaster: ”We don’t know these Advent songs. Why don’t we sing some carols?” Everybody is already having Christmas except the church.