Christmas

These Two – Friday Photo

Friday Photo has been an infrequent posting here on The Edge of the Inside for quite some time. It is not for lack of material. Here is one, actually two, to enjoy.

I do.

"Really?" - Copyright 2014 Todd A. Littleton

“Really?” – Copyright 2014 Todd A. Littleton

"Listen" - Copyright 2014 Todd A Littleton

“Listen” – Copyright 2014 Todd A Littleton

 

Christian Identity – Guest Post from The Ex-Reverend

Evidently The Ex-Reverend found yesterday’s lunch conversation worthy of reflection. For those who know Greg it may come as a shock that he is not really pining to pound the Church and Christians at every turn. But, he is not letting the Church or Christians off the hook easy when we trot out well-rehearsed euphemisms as explanation for our “beliefs,” much less our praxis.

In some regards you would understand Greg better if you found him something of a modern day Viktor Frankl asking questions about meaning. Please do not invest the analogy with more than the penchant to ask questions. Greg did not suffer in a concentration camp but did endure experiences which prompt the same sort of existential interests. Along the way Greg pushes us like Inigo pressed Vizzini in The Princess Bride with, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Here is a re-post with permission. “Christian Identity, or Can Baby Jesus Get Some Love.” Read More

Christmas As Therapy for the Church

Would Christian churches cancel services on Easter Sunday? Are you kidding? That would be akin to the United States canceling Independence Day celebrations. Question many Christians’ celebration of those two events and said group would “Occupy” in a way that would make the Arab Spring merely a blip on the radar of history. In some circles you need but question Independence Day celebrations on Sunday to experience a plague of Mosaic proportions. Just ask my “former-pastor” brother.

Yet, for at least two months, Christian churches have considered what to do about services when Christmas falls on Sunday. Ed Stetzer began crowd sourcing on his blog on October 27. “What does your church plan to do?” Research conducted by Lifeway noted that at least 90% of pastors surveyed were planning worship on Christmas Day this Sunday.

The thought of not having services on Christmas never crossed my mind. Read More

Ernest Cajoles the Entitled at Christmas

Ernest remarks, “I’m not familiar with any passage that reads, “Take offense at those who insult your sense of entitlement.” Ouch!

A couple of years ago we moved our Thanksgiving Dinner to a Sunday between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Rather than burden those who would volunteer to bake a ham or cook a turkey for the meal the same week they would do so for their family’s made sense. Those who cooked appreciated the consideration. It is not that these folks serve without sacrifice and so we must coddle them at every turn. We simply thought it healthy to allow them to enjoy what the rest of us benefit from – less stress.

What to name the meal? Read More

What if Retailers Rated Christians?

Let’s put together a website and offer the opportunity for retailers to rate Christians over against other shoppers this holiday season. Oops! I mean this Christmas Season. After all what is more important is that we use the right words than live in the right way.

I read with interest the story from The Gazette out of Colorado Springs, CO in yesterday’s The Oklahoman. Mark Barna spotlighted Focus Action the political arm of Focus on the Family. Each year for the past several Focus Action has alerted Christian shoppers to Christmas friendly retailers for fear the wider culture is “losing Christmas.” The key? Be sure to reference “Marry Christmas” rather than “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings.”

Shouting down retailers on a website seems like the wrong-headed way to make a point about the Way of Jesus. Can you see Jesus clipping through the Decapolis and shouting down retailers for their lack of religious sensitivity? What Jesus might really be doing is suggesting his followers find other ways to celebrate the Christmas Season instead of sleeping on sidewalks during “Black Friday” events. Even more, Jesus might suggest the very things we spend our hard earned money to purchase could be better spent investing in others. Oh the novelty of the upside down Kingdom.

I am no grinch. We will buy gifts. But it seems quite contrary to take off on retailers when our impulse to purchase goods we don’t need with money we don’t have flies in the face of a “store up treasures in heaven” kind of living and giving. And the text meant nothing about giving Christmas gifts.

So, wouldn’t it be nice if we could privilege retailers to rate Christians? I wonder what we would find. If Barna, Pew, or others are correct, we likely would find Christians rate no different than the average American when the item sought is “sold out.” When the flier price is incorrect due to publisher error. When we stand in line longer than we think we should. When we retort rudely when another who may not share our faith in Jesus offers a “Happy Holidays” instead of the Christian politically correct, “Merry Christmas.”

Far better to go ahead and shop in a way your gentleness and reasonableness is evident to everyone as we were reminded in last week’s text from Philippians 4. Maybe we could win an occasion for the Jesus way with living that way rather than shouting down others for not agreeing with our way. Something in the Scriptures reminds me our aim is love not preserving our cultural hegemony because we are Christian. Take a lesson from Jesus who was in the minority. Or maybe learn from the missionaries who dot the landscape of Acts and learn how to “live with others” in the Way of Jesus. They were certainly in the minority.

Gaining ascendancy has only served to make Christians fat and sassy. We live expecting others to privilege us while at the same time not offering much different in our way of living. This whole piece just seems perilously out of place when the aim is celebrating the weakness of the Savior born long ago.

Maybe Focus Action would be better to join the ranks of those who support “Buy Nothing For Christmas” or my friends over at Advent Conspiracy. But then where would the fun be in not shouting down others in the name of Jesus?