My local Christian radio station often makes me grumpy. This is especially true around Christmas. Still, I think that I have a valid reason to be grumpy. So much of the music on the Christian station is secular – lots of songs about Santa and reindeers and snow. Is it too much to ask the Christian radio station to leave secular Christmas to secular stations and to let the Christian station be, well, Christian?
Just to be clear. I am not grumpy about secular people enjoying Christmas. Secular people have taken Jesus out of Christmas and turned Christmas into something secular people want to celebrate – love, family, generosity, kindness and hope for a better world. Secular people are not forcing me to stop celebrating a biblical, historic, and Christian Christmas.
They have just taken the Christmas holiday and made it their own. So, I try to never be grumpy around my secular friends when they talk about how much they love Christmas. I ask them questions to connect, not confront. In other words, I don’t ask them questions so I can triumphantly pounce on their inconsistencies or shallowness or historical ignorance. And I never complain to them about secular Christmas.
Instead, I ask questions to get a sense of who they are. “What do you love about Christmas?” “What traditions do you have?” “What traditions would you like to start?” “Where are you going for Christmas?” “Who will be there?” “Who will you miss?” “When do you open presents?” “What do you eat at your Christmas meal?” The amazing thing about asking these questions, with affection and curiosity, is that the other person will usually ask me similar questions. This gives me permission to share something about myself, and more importantly, something about what I as a Christian love: celebrating a biblical Christmas.
As we all know, not everyone loves Christmas or celebrates it. The questions I shared above are what I ask of people who say they love Christmas. Usually my conversation in the coffee shop will start with a simple question, “Do you have any plans for Christmas?” This is how I often find out about heartbreak or disappointment.
Sometimes it is how I find out they are Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist or Jewish. When you ask a person an honest, affectionate, non-threatening question, you never know what will emerge. When I hear of broken families or broken relationships, I listen like crazy and silently send out desperate prayers to God to help me know what to say. I don’t know how well I handle the situations, but I plan to keep asking the “Christmas question” anyway. This time of year is an amazing time to connect with people, to let them know you are a Christian and to let them know about Jesus – God made flesh to save all who put their faith in Him and His finished work.
By the way, since being grumpy is not a fruit of the Spirit, I just don’t listen to the Christian radio station at Christmas!