By now you’ve probably seen the image of a Congressional candidate who sent out a Christmas card of his family in front of the tree and all holding a variety of weapons. The image has spawned a variety of responses. Other Members of Congress have done similar photos in support of the said candidate. Other folks have been creative and replaced the weapons with other items. One person replaced the weapons with books saying that they were arming their kids with knowledge.
I’m not a big fan of Christmas cards. We haven’t sent any out in years. We still receive some, but the numbers dwindle a bit more each year. More power to the folks who like to send them out – if sending Christmas cards helps you celebrate the Christmas spirit, then go for it, I’m happy to receive them. Just don’t expect me to send you one. I don’t send them because sending Christmas cards just feels like a lot of work. There is no joy in it for me. I’d rather have a conversation with someone, share a meal with someone, do just about anything else as opposed to send a card.
I tell you that in order to offer some context on what I’m about to say. I think the gun posing card, along with the responses, to be missing the point of Christmas. Such cards are nothing more than the continuation of using religious symbolism for an ongoing ideological war that never takes a break – even on holy days. How ironic that a card that celebrates Christmas – the coming of the Prince of Peace – would turn into something that overshadows Christ all together. The focus turned to the weapons, the statement being made, and the responses of others and their points. Christ and his coming is lost in the mix.
But that’s not new. Our society lost Christ in the midst of this season long ago. We lost Christ when Christmas became about how much stuff you could buy and how much money you needed to spend. We lost Christ when Christmas was about making the biggest display possible. We lost Christ when we fight over if there is a war on Christmas or not. We lost Christ when churches fight over health standards, masks, and singing. We lost Christ when many decisions are questioned and seen through the lens of partisanship rather than anything else. We lost Christ when we became more concerned with being right about any number of issues, rather than seeing the human toll of that form of idolatry. We lost Christ in many other ways. So no, this one Christmas card and the many responsive cards aren’t how we lost Christ in this season. They are just confirmation of how lost we are.
You see we didn’t lost Christ at all really. We lost ourselves. We lost our way. We turned away from Jesus and his way. Apparently we thought we knew better than Jesus does. That doesn’t seem to be working out so well though. But clearly not bad enough that we are willing to change course yet.
But again, this isn’t new. I’ve read so many figures from the past who could have easily written what I just wrote in the last couple of paragraphs. And so here we are.
The weaponized cards will come and go. We’ll forget them and look for the next outrage next week.
But Christ is here, even in the midst of it all. He is coming. He brings with him a new way of living and being. He is the Prince of Peace. He proclaim freedom from sin and bondage. He provides food for the hungry. He welcomes the stranger. He stands with the sick. He frees those imprisoned. He lifts the lowly. He empowers the powerless. He brings good news to the poor. None of that has changed. He’s always been doing this. And he invites us to participate. That won’t ever make the news and get coverage. It’s not controversial and anger inducing enough. It’s not based on fear. It doesn’t offer a message that tells you that you aren’t enough unless you buy this or that.
Instead, Jesus tells us we have value because God made us. Jesus tells us “do not be afraid!” Jesus tells us that we are whole. Jesus tells us that we will not be alone. Jesus offers us grace and mercy. Jesus gives us forgiveness. And he invites us to share these things with others too.
If you are going to send a Christmas card, please remember what the card is about. It’s not about making a point, getting media attention, being right, or provoking a response. It’s about the proclamation of something truly revolutionary – the unfolding of God’s kingdom in our midst. A new way that is radically different than our way. A society that is transformed to be in alignment with God’s standards. That’s what Christmas is about. If you want to send a card with a weapon on it, or anything else that is designed to make some ideological point, go for it – just don’t call it a Christmas card. Because it’s not. It’s a fundraising letter, or a get out the vote piece. Jesus is king, he don’t need us to vote for him.