Have you noticed all the strident “Its Merry Christmas not Happy Holidays” post on social media as if this was the way to keep Christ in Christmas? Such posts, I believe, spring from a nostalgia for old and better times. These times are represented by Christianity being a dominant force in culture. There was school prayer and public manger scenes. If memory serves us right we were a Christian nation. The problem is that memory does not serve us well. Nations cannot be Christian only people can! School prayer may have actually provide children with an inoculation so they did not come down with a real case of Christianity!
Such misplace nostalgia can make us a complaining crowd, and unattractive to the post-Christendom world we actually live in. This tendency to retreat to our nostalgic fortresses keeps us from our true calling (vocation). Jesus sent his disciples into a hostile world. It had just crucified Him, after all! He sent this early Church, this new creation, to go forth and multiply, making disciples. From there they began a counter cultural movement to woo and disciple. They went as sheep among wolves.
Over time, sadly, that movement became an institution. Our contemporary world has little affection for an institutional church. Just this week the oldest church in Saint John, one of the oldest cities in North America, was put up for sale. Rising heating costs and low numbers made this inevitable. This is not an isolated case. It is a wakeup call. We must eschew institutional thinking and recapture the essence of a movement. This transition involves a realization that we do not live in a Christian culture. This time of ‘Seasons Greetings’ provides us all sorts of opportunities to be the missionaries we are called to be. Let’s take advantage of this wonderful opportunity and not squander it by stridently insisting that people should behave in a way that Christendom prescribes.
I was reminded this week that people are watching. If you don’t believe people are watching, just make a mistake! Misspell something online or use; its or it’s improperly. You will soon learn that people are watching. You do have influence! Take this chance that culture hands us to love people and practise peace. “Let your light so shine before men that they might see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.”