What Would Jesus Say?

This is the time of year when I always used to say, “Merry Christmas.” I never thought of those as fighting words, but as part of my heritage, even though I am a lapsed Christian. It is my family’s way of greeting the season that celebrates the renewal of life and, yes, peace on earth – which in our tradition is embodied in the image of a small child born to a 14-year-old virgin in a stable in Bethlehem in Judea.

I was offering my tradition to others, not to be offensive but to be open, offering it in the spirit of Scrooge’s nephew in Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol:

“But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time . . . as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”

But that was before I learned about the War on Christmas and the ensuing call to arms that has weaponized “Merry Christmas” and admonished us to shut our hearts against those fellow-passengers to the grave who have different traditions and different beliefs. I hesitate now to say “Merry Christmas,” lest it be misunderstood as part of that cultural war being waged in the name of the prince of peace.

But I can’t suppress my exuberance. Children arrive today from distant parts. We’ll go and cut down a (Christmas) tree, and in three days we will open stockings by the fire.

And so I say with Tiny Tim, “God bless us, every one!”

James G. Blaine

About James G. Blaine

Most of us undervalue what seem our tiny contributions to our communities and the world. As a result, we feel powerless, even victimized. But, like the butterfly effect in science, the lives we lead with our families, in our communities, and at work – all the so-called little things we do – collectively change the world. As I grow older, my ambition grows more modest but not less important: to participate fully and to contribute what I can. That’s my goal with this blog.