Should I wish you a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?
Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee is in the morning news. He released a statement this week announcing that he will host “the annual State House holiday tree lighting.” When critics complained about his depiction of Christmas trees, he urged them to volunteer to help Rhode Island’s needy instead.
The Christmas vs. Holidays controversy has reached the status of urban legend. An email making the rounds again this year criticizes the Obama White House for refusing religious Christmas ornaments and erecting Holiday trees. The claim has been debunked repeatedly, but its popularity shows the deep feelings stirred by this issue.
Meanwhile, “Tebow Mania” continues to escalate. Tim Tebow, the son of missionaries, is 5-1 since becoming the Denver Broncos’ starting quarterback. He’s playing in Minnesota this weekend, where his jersey has surged into a top-five seller. He is as known for his faith as for his football. Tebow kneels on the field, points to heaven after touchdowns, and glorifies God at every opportunity.
Critics such as former Denver quarterback Jake Plummer consider such public demonstrations to be inappropriate. Kurt Warner, an outstanding quarterback and very devout believer, suggested that Tebow tone down his comments so he doesn’t create barriers to his faith. Some Detroit Lions players even mocked his on-field prayers when they defeated the Broncos a few weeks ago.
Tebow responded to Plummer: “If you’re married and you have a wife, and you really love your wife, is it good enough to only say to your wife ‘I love her’ the day you get married? Or should you tell her every single day when you wake up and every opportunity? That’s how I feel about my relationship with Jesus Christ is that it is the most important thing in my life.”
What is your opinion on Tebow’s faith and Holiday trees? Here’s mine: while I understand Warner’s concern, I wish we had more Tim Tebows. And I wish more Americans understood the “reason for the season” this Christmas.
The tradition of lighting trees during December goes back to the Middle Ages and has always been identified specifically with Christmas. To make Christmas trees into Holiday trees is like making Ramadan into a “month of contemplation” or Hanukkah into a “season for reflection.” If more Christians were as committed to professional excellence and personal godliness as Tebow, perhaps the larger culture would see that Christmas is not a holiday but a holy day.
Jesus told us to “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). People will know that Jesus was born in Bethlehem when they see that he has been born again in us.