Our scripture this morning comes from Matthew chapter 2, verses, 13-23.
Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”
Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”
When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men.
Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled,
because they are no more.”
When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said,
“Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.”
Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel.
But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee.
There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He will be called a Nazorean.”
The word of the Lord.
The war on Christmas is apparently a thing. Herod started it. Seriously, how paranoid do you have to be to commit infanticide “just in case.”
From what I understand, the war on Christmas got revived in recent years. There have been attacks on all fronts. Two years ago, it got so bad that Christian actor Kirk Cameron, best known for his role in Growing Pains and a whole slew of overly long sermons badly disguised as movies, produced an abomination called Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas. It has 1.5 out of 10 stars on the Internet Movie Database, where it currently ranks at #2 on their list of the top 100 worst films of all time. It used to be #1, but apparently 2015’s Code Name: K.O.Z. was really, really bad. Anyway, I watched Saving Christmas so you don’t have to. I took that bullet for you. You’re welcome.
Kirk Cameron was worried because some Christians didn’t like Santa Claus, or thought candy canes, Christmas trees, and presents weren’t 100% all about Jesus, so he wasted an hour of my life trying to explain how setting up a pine tree in your house is definitely about Jesus because there were trees in Eden and Jesus died on a cross, which some Bible translations call… wait for it… a tree. Also, there’s a tree in the new Jerusalem in Revelation, so of course Christmas trees are all about Jesus.
That’s not a joke, he was serious.
Delighted that he had saved Christmas, Kirk Cameron engaged in a 10-minute dance party that I can never un-see.
During the movie, though, a few minor characters referenced the slightly-better-known “war on Christmas.” Apparently, in an attempt to be inclusive and recognize that (gasp!) not everyone is a Christian and celebrates Christmas, some stores started telling their employees to say “Happy Holidays,” and that apparently constituted a war. If you believe some of the recent commentary, Christmas is now winning the war on it, but I’m not so sure that’s the right war, or that Christmas is winning the right one.
That war on Christmas, too, appears to be failing. On December 15, Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly declared that the “War on Christmas” was over and pronounced Christmas the winner because many stores that had stopped using the word “Christmas” re-introduced it.
Five days before Christmas day, my grandmother posted a video with the caption “People are losing their minds over Trump’s lack of political correctness saying ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘God Bless You.'”
I commented with a link to a video on Slate.com, a compilation of a bunch of times President Obama has also said “Merry Christmas,” without causing people to “lose their minds.”
But as Kristen and I were driving home from celebrating Christmas with her family, I kept hearing people in my NPR podcasts say “Happy Holidays” and I got to thinking: What does it mean for people to wish us a Merry Christmas? What does it mean for a president or president-elect of the United States, or a department store employee, to wish us a merry Christmas? Continue reading