Merry Christmas to my Christian friends and Happy Channukah to my Jewish friends. Call me politically incorrect, but this is the season during which we celebrate these two important religious holidays. Here in the United States we live in a society where Christian concepts have dominated our culture for over 300 years. Judaism has had the second greatest influence on our culture during that time. This influence has resulted both from the Jewish immigrants who have settled here and from the fact that Christianity has its roots in Judaism
This is not to say that a vast majority of Americans are either Christians or Jews. The Biblical definition of a Christian is one who has a personal relationship with Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Many Jews claim a Jewish ancestry, but God is not interested in pedigree. God is interested in our faith and devotion (John chapter 3). It would appear that the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) is probably a good Biblical definition of a practicing Jew. Such a person would love the Lord (God or Yahweh) with all their heart and soul. Far to many Americans think it is acceptable to attend church or a synagogue only now and then and perhaps to participate in an occasional ceremony but they still consider themselves to be either Christian or Jewish in spite of minimal devotion to God.
Until recently, our Judo-Christian morality was accepted as the norm and our Christian and Jewish culture was practiced in the community even by those who had little faith. Naturally, those who identified with Christianity preferred to celebrate Christian holidays and those who called themselves Jews tended to prefer Jewish holidays In addition, a new holiday slowly emerged. Merchants seized upon the gift giving traditions of both Christmas and Channukah to develop what I will call a secular Christmas in which even those not interested in religion have a holiday for the exchanging of gifts and participation in parties. For over a century everyone seemed to be happy celebrating one or more of these seasonal holidays. Public school choir concerts usually included Christmas songs, Channukah songs or both. Everyone was happy wishing each other a Merry Christmas. Those of us with Jewish friends exchanged Merry Christmas and Happy Channukah with each other.
I suspect the practice of wishing Happy Holidays began with those who wished to find a single greeting for both their Christian and Jewish friends or customers. Then it appears to have spread to those who became aware of obscure holidays such as Winter Solstice. Originally it was all in good faith in that people genuinely wished to call for the blessings of the holiday one observes.
Now enter the Grinch, political correctness. We are told we should not offend anyone. Furthermore it is assumed we offend people by not agreeing with them, and there are many who claim to be offended simply by hearing or seeing something they disagree with. Heretofore, we were not offended by those who are Jews or who worship, Buda, Allah, etc. I knew people who thought I was wrong to be a Christian, but none were offended that I practiced Christianity. Currently, we have people who claim to be offended by expressions of religious faith. If there is any truth in this at all, there is no way to keep from offending anyone because there are differences of opinion that can not be reconciled.
The Grinch has declared we should prevent people from being offended by wishing them Happy Holidays. The reason is not because of any inclusion, but because Happy Holidays is void of meaning. What offends people is the fact that Christmas is intended to be meaningful. For that matter Channukah is also meaningful even though the meaning differs from that of Christmas.
When I, as a Christian, wish you a Merry Christmas, I am wishing that you share in the experience of welcoming Jesus into the world. Sure, there are parties and presents, but the real meaning of Christmas is the birth of the Messiah. God realized that most men consider God very distant. The best way to develop a personal relationship between God and man was for God to become a human. So God came to Earth in the form of a baby, a baby who grew into a man with all of the triumphs and agonies of any person. The only difference between Jesus and the rest of us is that Jesus did not sin. Yes, Jesus was a man, but he remained God, living a sinless life. Jesus taught us as no man has ever taught before. Jesus died for the sins of humanity and rose again. He inspired a growing number of followers who founded one of the largest and greatest churches on Earth. Jesus wants you to believe in him and accept him as your personal Lord and Savior.
This is what offends people who do not want to accept any deity who might influence them let alone possibly control them. Most such people want to be the one controlling their world. No wonder they are offended when religious nuts like me dare to publicly call upon God to be Lord and Savior. Worse than that, we thank God for supplying us with our needs and supporting us in our lives. There are many denominations of Christians, but we all agree there is one living God who we observe as a trinity. We also agree that said God loves us, guides us, and supports his children for all eternity.
If you chance to meet me on the street, I will wish you a Merry Christmas. If I know you are Jewish, or if you tell me you are a Jew, I will also include a Happy Channukah in my wish. In fact, should one of my Muslim friends from Asia show up in a year when Ramadan falls in December I will wish him or her both a Merry Christmas and a Blessed Ramadan.
The point is that I will continue to wish people a Merry Christmas to remind them that the reason for the season is the celebration of Christmas.
Please view my website, ReynoldConger.com.