*Reposted from December 8, 2010
“Christmas survived the Roman Empire,
I think it can handle the renaming of the Tulsa parade.”
- Jon Stewart (watch the video)
Ever witness a kid digress into complete meltdown mode after his parents refused to buy him that new video game?
“But I want it! It’s mine! Give it to me!”
Entitlement can get ugly, especially around Christmastime.
And the only thing more embarrassing than watching a little kid throw a fit is watching a grownup throw one.
“If you don’t play religious music at your store, we’ll boycott it!”
“We demand that manger scenes be placed in front of all government buildings!”
“How dare you say ‘happy holidays’ to me? I want to speak with the manager!”
“I want it! It’s mine! Give it to me!”
I’m not sure when or why it happened, but in some circles, entitlement has been declared December's Christian virtue. Suddenly it’s not enough that Americans spend millions of dollars each year marking the birth of Jesus. Now we’ve got to have a “Merry Christmas” banner in front of every parade and an inflatable manger scene outside of every courthouse... or else we’ll make a big stink about it in the name of Jesus. Having opened the gift of the incarnation—of God with us—we’ve peered inside and shrieked, “This is not enough! Where are the accessories? We want more!”
This is a strange way to honor Jesus, “who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped…but made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant.” (Philippians 2:8)
Jesus didn’t arrive with a parade. He arrived in a barn.
Jesus wasn’t embraced by the government. He was crucified by it.
Jesus didn’t demand that his face be etched into coins or his cross be carried like a banner into war. He asked that those who follow him be willing to humble themselves to the point of death, to serve rather than be served, to give rather than receive.
What a tragedy that history’s greatest act of humility is being marked by petty acts of entitlement and pride.
Don't tell anyone, but sometimes I wonder if the best thing that could happen to this country is for Christ to be taken out of Christmas—for Advent to be made distinct from all the consumerism of the holidays and for the name of Christ to be invoked in the context of shocking forgiveness, radical hospitality, and logic-defying love. The Incarnation survived the Roman Empire, not because it was common but because it was strange, not because it was forced on people but because it captivated people.
Let’s celebrate the holidays, of course, but let’s live the incarnation. Let’s advocate for the poor, the forgotten, the lonely, and the lost. Let’s wage war against hunger and oppression and modern-day slavery.
Let’s be the kind of people who get worked up on behalf of others rather than ourselves.