More Than a Merry Christmas

“Merry Christmas” said the gruff, well-seasoned bus driver. He paused. “And if you don’t celebrate Christmas I’m not talking to you!”

In politically correct Cambridge I thought my ears were going to fall off. And I feared a bit for his life. But in the spirit of the season, most people were good-hearted and merry about the interaction, wishing the driver a happy holiday or Merry Christmas as they left the bus.

It also made me think about the “war on Christmas”. I realize it’s not something I’ve fretted over. While I think ‘X’mas’ looks a little silly, I dismiss it quickly. I’ve lived in two Muslim majority countries where we celebrated Christmas without outside forces dictating the rules or grandmas getting run over by reindeer.   And as I walked away from the bus with a ‘Merry Christmas’ in my ears and on my lips, in an epiphany of sorts I was struck that my faith is so far beyond a mere ‘Merry Christmas’.

For this God I love is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He’s the bright morning star and the fairest of ten thousand. He is the babe in the manger and the King of Kings. He was there when the sea was formed and is there when the mountain goats give birth. He is Creator, Saviour, Comforter all in one. He is, and will always be, so much more than a Merry Christmas.

So today I wish you more than a Merry Christmas. While the magic of the season is limited, the reality of the living God will sustain forever.



Readers & Friends – Thank you….for reading, emailing, commenting, and, right when I’m ready to stop blogging, telling me that what I wrote helped your soul. Yesterday Communicating Across Boundaries made it to over 200,000 views in less than two years – and it’s because of you. I’ll be taking a break for a few days as my kids come in from different corners of the globe through international and domestic terminals. 


The Third Friday of Advent: What if I’m the Grinch who stole Christmas?

Grinch[1]Ok… I’m sort of sick of it all! I’m weary of the pressure and the competition. Who’s house has the prettiest outside decorations…who’s tree is the most elaborate and glamorous…. Who has the most gorgeous holiday ensemble…. I’m worn out by the mass frenzy to track down stuff! I’m tired of the ridiculous notion that I’d ever buy that for someone…and the hint that my love is in question if I don’t spend an enormous amount of money on my love, my child, my mom.

I’m sick of the activity—the cookie exchanges, the teacher appreciation, the office Christmas party, the choir concerts, the classroom parties, the youth group gift exchanges, the white elephant Sunday school party, the drawing of names, the sending of cards and packages, the lists of who to buy for, the lists of what to send to whom.

I’m even worn out by….and this is going to sound horribly heartless, the pressure to give-to local charities, to foreign charities, to missionary charities. The last-minute year-end appeals on the radio and in the mail as if we’ve all saved up all our money all year long and are just itching to unleash it all on someone, “pick me! Pick me”!

I’m nauseated by the Facebook posts, the meaningful comments encapsulating the good that my friends are up to. I’m seriously annoyed by the blog posts (Not yours Marilyn!) and the sappy sentimental YouTube clips all dripping with sweetness that seems imminently insincere!

I’m grumpy. I’m tired. I’m suspicious and I’m cynical.

I think I might be the Grinch.

What do you do if you discover you’re the Grinch and we’re half way through December? At the end of November I suggested that maybe we not get a Christmas tree this year. Our 10-year-old Bronwynn burst into tears. She cried and cried. Admittedly I was a little shocked by the strength of her reaction….and then horrified when she sobbed, “My mom is the Grinch”!

But maybe she was right.

The truth is I don’t want the Christmas de-cashing clutter, nor the crazy chaos to steal Jesus. I just wished we didn’t dress him up in such zany attire. Let’s strip him of these costumes we’ve forced on him: the baking, the frenzy, the shopping. Let’s embrace the Child alone in swaddling cloth—simple, plain, Jesus. That’s not Grinch-like is it?

Or maybe it is.

Maybe you must have a green face to shovel to the bottom of the glitter….in the end the Grinch himself had a heart that yearned for generosity and true joy. And that’s what I want too.

It’s time to launch another War on Christmas*. Grab the face paint. Paint your faces green. Stop shopping. Stop the frenzy train and get off. Come humbly with green faces and honest hearts to Jesus who actually invites us: ““Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matt 11:28-30 The Message)

*War on Christmas—It’s all over the conservative media–this notion that Christmas is somehow being squished out. There’s a fight to keep Christmas. I’m afraid I don’t see it….if anything Christmas – the commercial and crazy “Every Kiss Begins with Kay” Christmas – is slowly squeezing out Jesus. That’s what I’m resisting!

Let’s Occupy Christmas with Green faces and Jesus!

“Yeah, there’s a lot of bad ‘isms’ floatin’ around this world, but one of the worst is commercialism. Make a buck, make a buck. Even in Brooklyn it’s the same – don’t care what Christmas stands for, just make a buck, make a buck.” from Miracle on 34th Street