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Every year it happens, “the war on Christmas.” Those who want to keep Christ in Christmas versus those who like the season but balk at the reason for it. And let’s just say it: the war is not really on Christmas; it’s on Christ. If the celebration was called “Santa-mas,” no one would care. If other symbols were added to the nativity, like a menorah, a multi-colored rainbow, a Navajo all-Seeing Eye, a Kwanza Mkeka, etc., we would all be singing Kumbaya and passing the peace pipe around. But when that baby named Christ entered the scene, as the song rightly says, “he changed everything.” As soon as He was placed in the stable, He became a target for the enemies of God and that’s why the war on Christmas rages on.

The situation got so bad a few years ago that even mild-mannered humorist Garrison Keillor entered the fray. In an article characterized by his usual sharp wit, he remarked:

“Christmas is a Christian holiday – if you’re not in the club, then buzz off. Celebrate Yule instead or dance around in druid robes for the solstice. Go light a big log, go wassailing and falalaing until you fall down, eat figgy pudding until you puke, but don’t mess with the Messiah.” (Garrison Keillor, Baltimore Sun, in a column titled “Non believers, please leave Christmas alone”).

Very well, Mr. Keillor, but that article only provoked more controversy. And though it made me laugh, I couldn’t help but think: what is all the fuss about? Could people be a little more tolerant and embrace the message of Christmas even if they didn’t care for the messenger?

Don’t misunderstand me. I am in no way advocating Christmas without Christ, but for those who take offense at Christ, I have a proposition to make: I get it that you don’t believe that Christ is the Messiah of God, but do you not agree that justice, peace and joy are all good for humanity? If you do, then Merry Christmas, for this is, in essence, the message that baby in the manger came to give, regardless of whether you believe He was a prophet or not.

Let’s agree right now: Jesus was a historical figure. No credible historian denies that anymore. Only people ranting on YouTube videos are having that discussion. The rest of us have moved on. And if your source of information is YouTube, I would like to say STOP right now. That stuff is detrimental to your health. And it will turn you into the annoyance of the party. And it will enlarge the perimeter area around your body… So drop that phone right now, delete the app, get handcuffed, if you must. And throw away the keys!

But back to Jesus now. When He made His humble entrance into the world, God was sending all of us a signal: He was going to restore justice, peace, and joy to the whole of mankind. Who can be against that? Only people who go on ranting on YouTube! No rational human being wants injustice, war, and sadness to prevail in our little planet called earth, do they? So, if you want to continue hating the Christ of Christmas, at least consider the Call of Christmas.

There are three things about the Call of Christmas that we will be studying this Sunday and these are so important I want every good atheist to hear me out.

1. Christmas tells us that God loves justice and so should we. “But about the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.’” (Hebrews 1:8).

2. Christmas tells us that God loves peace and so should we. “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’” (Luke 2:13-14).

3. Christmas tells us that God loves joy and so should we. “But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.’” (Luke 2:10).

Merry Christmas, everyone, and don’t forget to work for justice for those who are oppressed, to bring peace to the world, starting with the people in your household, and to allow yourself to be knocked out silly from sheer joy at knowing that God cares for every human being who ever set foot on the face of the earth.

Good news of joy for all!

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade