”Whenever the material and the spiritual coincide, there is the Christ. Jesus fully accepted that human-divine identity and walked it into history. Henceforth, the Christ “comes again” whenever we are able to see the spiritual and the material coexisting, in any moment, in any event, and in any person.” Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations,3 December 2018.
I have been thinking about this joyful season and its greeting as the celebration of the incarnation of God approaches. More and more I hear people wishing a Merry Christmas to those around them. Perhaps the return of this greeting has something to do with the uproar over the song “Let it Snow”.
Amidst my pondering people have greeted me with happy Hanukkah and I wondered if Ramadan occurred around this time of year too. No one seems offended by greetings connected to these celebrations. So why is “Merry Christmas” banned in some places?
From my point of view these greetings share the same invitation: well-wishes for everyone. Especially now, after all it is the time of solstice and the days will be getting thankfully longer. We will soon see the sun again as we move to and from work! Longing for light, we tire of the darkness.
Greetings reveal identity
Another consequence of having wished people well is the inevitable identification we shoulder. By wishing you a Merry Christmas I identify myself as Christian, not a popular stance these days and very much discouraged. “People might be offended,” they say. I have no idea why. I am not offended when someone wishes me a happy Hanukkah, or a happy Ramadan. Rather, I take it as a blessing, and we have much need of blessings these days.
Christ came for everyone
So, when I wish you a Merry Christmas, I am attempting to bless you not convert you to my rather imperfect religion. When someone takes offense, I am truly saddened to know this person has been somehow wounded by association with the Christian church. I understand and I will pray for that person. There is much need of healing. New teaching, more accurate teaching about Christ, would go a long way too. I pray for my embattled, imperfect church too. There is much to be done. I am hoping my joyful contribution will make a difference in this beleaguered world.
With that in mind, Merry Christmas everyone. May you enjoy the blessings of this special season abundantly: joy, peace, love and fellowship. In addition, may you find it in your heart ot bless those around you with the gifts you have received and can share. Blessings to you all.