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Monday, November 9, 2015

Starbucks and "The Reason for the Season"

I was planning to write about this even before this latest thing about the supposed "War on Christmas" made the news again because of this year's Starbucks holiday season cup, but my original idea was to do it closer to December 25. Tonight, however, it seems that "now" is the right time for this post.

We just left our local Starbucks a little while ago, after going there for some delicious after-dinner coffee. I visit one of their stores every day for my beloved venti iced coffee fixed just the way I like it (when Ken is with me, he usually orders something different every time). 

I like to go to Starbucks with my mac and write or get caught up on social media, and since I no longer have office space, I also do a lot of my counseling appointments there. 

I love all things Starbucks.

Tonight while we were there, I noticed that they were selling both a Christmas coffee blend, and a large Advent Calendar, as they do every year. After we finished our coffee, we got in the car and I turned on sirius radio to listen to one of the two holiday channels that they have this year. I noted that Channel 13 was playing Bing Crosby's cover of 'The Little Drummer Boy', (a song about the birth of Jesus), and then I turned it over to see what they were playing on Channel 18, and heard some orchestra's rendition of 'What Child is This?' (yet another song about the birth of Jesus). Both of these Channels play at least as many songs about the Nativity, 24 hours a day, as they do songs about Santa Claus and reindeer and snow.

I suppose that we all see what we're looking for, and since I have no religious paranoia and am not constantly on the lookout for a politically correct "War on Christmas", I just don't see it. In fact, I see Christmas being observed earlier and earlier every year, and I hear songs about the birth of the Christ-child being played in every store, restaurant or mall that I patronize.

But I also hear the phrases, "Let's put Christ back in Christmas" and "Jesus is the reason for the season" quite a bit from some Christians who think that there is a grand plot to banish it, altogether, and that's what I want to address here.

First of all, "Christ" (as in Jesus Christ) wasn't initially even in what we now know as Christmas, so technically, Jesus wasn't originally the "reason for the season". 

The Christian ecclesiastical calendar contains many remnants of pre-Christian festivals that were all rooted in paganism, and were celebrated for centuries before Jesus was born in Bethlehem. The Church in later centuries made it a habit to "Christianize" all of the pagan holidays and festivals, which is why Christmas includes elements of the Roman feast of the Saturnalia and the birthday of Mithra, and why we have christmas trees (which came from the druids), and why we have the Easter Bunny and Easter eggs, which have nothing to do with the resurrection of Jesus.

Historians believe that Jesus was actually born the first week of April. We only celebrate Christmas on December 25 because of the Winter Solstice and the ancient pre-Christian winter festivals which took place on or around that date. That's why we sing songs like 'Jingle Bells', 'White Christmas', 'Winter Wonderland', 'Frosty the Snowman', 'Let it Snow', 'Baby it's Cold Outside', 'Marshmallow World', etc, which are all about winter and snow (and have nothing to do with Jesus), only at Christmas time.

Secondly, Jesus never told His disciples or any of His followers to celebrate His birthday. I'm not saying it's not a good thing to celebrate it, just that it doesn't seem like it mattered to Him.

I could go on about Nativity scenes that don't look anything like what it actually/probably looked like when Jesus was born, and why it doesn't matter to me if they aren't put up in public places. I don't care, and furthermore, I really don't think Jesus cares, either.

Jesus isn't in competition with Santa Claus (whose myth is based on the real Bishop, Saint Nicholas), and I don't think He's worried that His "birthday" isn't all about Him. It never was, really, at least not on December 25. And I REALLY don't think that He cares about what a Starbucks cup looks like!

If your Jesus is all whiny about that kind of stuff, then more power to ya, but that's not the Jesus that I know. The Jesus I know through the Scriptures and by the Spirit has a much different set of priorities. I also don't think that He would want His "birthday" celebration crammed down the throats of people who may see Him differently.

I love all things Christmas. 

Every carol is my favorite. 

It doesn't matter to me that Jesus was actually born in April. 

It doesn't matter to me when He was born, because the Daystar has already risen in my heart, and that reality isn't limited to a day or even to a season.

I'm happy to celebrate the Incarnation whenever.

I see nothing wrong with saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas", because to me it's simply a salutation that refers to all the events of December and January, including "Happy New Year".

I see nothing at all sinister or evil about an elegantly simple red coffee cup.

If there's a "War on Christmas", I just don't see it.

Maybe I've been drinking too much coffee.

68 comments:

  1. Bill Shafer said...

    Hallelujah. ...and AMEN!!!

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  2. Ken Wortley said...

    Preach it brother and stay focused ... Love my brasilian brew

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  3. Debbie Tisdale said...

    Amen!

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  4. Sharon Smith said...

    The RED CUPS!!!

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  5. Jeannie Glover said...

    THANK YOU Bishop!

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  6. Cheri Willis Lindhe said...

    Wow....thank you! This is RICH blend for certain!

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  7. Jason Hawbaker said...

    Yes! Well said!

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  8. Kimberly Turner said...

    Classic Bishop Swilley! This is why you are my favorite "Spiritual Dad"

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  9. Jeffrey Keith Sanders said...

    I have always preached that we are to treat every day as both Christmas and Easter, as you articulated December 25th is merely the day WE Choose to observe it, and don't mean to get on a rant but I hear so many speak about October 31ST Being Satans Day but to a true satanist every day is Satans day to little kids it's about dressing up and getting candy, it's about how each individual CHOOSES To recognize a day

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  10. Lori Finch Coyne said...

    YES, Yes and yes! <3

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  11. Matilda Hudgins Adams said...

    Thank you Bishop! You said it in such a kind loving way!

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  12. Yvette Flunder said...

    My sentiments exactly. Jesus would be so through with these Christians.

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  13. Araminta Lett said...

    I see nothing wrong with these cups.

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  14. Emilio D'Angelo said...

    Thanks so much Bishop, no offence to those who feel differently but to me being Christlike sure isn't about starting wars that have nothing to do with Christ or the Holy Spirit. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead will teach us all things. As a minister I have faced what I see as the bad side of Christmas every year but have never faulted anyone for doing what makes them happy for this season. I'm very happy that to me and many others it's about Christ but Happy Holidays is a very good thing and I always encourage everyone to give good things to others including good words and thoughts. Merry Christmas to you, the Church and all those you love, Hugs!

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  15. Rachel Parker Falcone said...

    Amen!

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  16. L Christophe Carson said...

    Amen!

    The "War on Christians" is being waged by people who have taken Christ out of their heart! Forget CHRISTmas! Put Christ back in CHRISTians!

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  17. Todd Wade said...

    Thank you for this...wish I had your wisdom.....smart man....we are lucky to have you...

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  18. Calvin Thompson said...

    Before I read this, I was thinking that if folks are so upset about the word "Christmas" being left out of things, then we are worried about the wrong things...Bravo Bishop...

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  19. James Darby said...

    Thank you Bishop, I couldn't agree more.

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  20. WendyLynne Efird said...

    Amen!

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  21. Don Paulk said...

    Well said . . .

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  22. Dennis L. Hall said...

    Very well said. Hey can I plagiarize this...? Just kidding, I so appreciate how you express truth in a clear articulate manner. This should definitely be published in a wider circulation. Peace to you.

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  23. Mark Alan Fout said...

    You "nailed it" again!...thank you!!!

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  24. Dusty Goss Takle said...

    I tell my kids "YOU are the reason for the season. Because, unto YOU a child was born." And, it is true....you see what you want to see.

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  25. George Sandler said...

    As long as my cup has no hole in the bottom or the sides I don't really care what color it is. I have WAY more important things to concern myself with. This was a very cool post, Bish. Factual AND entertaining. But I didn't quite get how you feel about Starbucks....

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  26. Hannah Stout said...

    YES ♡

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  27. Frances Martin said...

    And so called "christians" wonder why the world laughs at them. I have said it before but I really don't like to be called christian because of all the dumbass things they come up with. The fact that we even have to talk about a red cup is so silly...Love & Light

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  28. Michaella Jeanne Smoot said...

    I feel so at peace when I read one of your posts, especially those dealing with "social issues" like this. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one thinking this way. ;-)

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  29. Launa Morgan SAID...

    Haha. Tell it bishop

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  30. Launa Morgan SAID...

    Haha. Tell it bishop

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  31. Winfred FightingMediocrity Christian said...

    Well said great communicator, my thoughts exactly!!

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  32. Ken Marshall said...

    Well said ! heart <3

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  33. Melody Osborne said...

    On point once again. Thank you.

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  34. Vicki Crews said...

    Well said ! I TOTALLY agree!

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  35. Tamara Anne Murphy said...

    Totally love this!!!

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  36. Kingsley Raines Allen said...

    Absolutely great read! Can I share this post?

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  37. Bonnie Hilton Childers said...

    I. Love. You.

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  38. Bill Newberry said...

    Well said, my friend!

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  39. Lisa Smith Pomeroy said...

    BOOM! Sharing :-)

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  40. Gina Hay Bryan said...

    Best writing on this issue I've seen YET!

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  41. Jessica Higginbotham said...

    This was beautiful.

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  42. Jessica Higginbotham said...

    These aren't anti-christian cups, though.. they're just communist cups

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  43. Shana Scudder said...

    This is just . . . yes. Thank you. I really hope I get down to Atlanta one of these days to hear you preach, or even better, to meet you in person! Everything I have read or heard from you is so spot-on. You really have quite a talent for saying exactly what needs to be said, when people need to hear it.

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  44. Shontella Evans said...

    Well said, Well said

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  45. Shontella Evans said...

    Reposted

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  46. Dea Smith said...

    As usual so awesomely put!!

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  47. Donald Cofield said...

    Good. I know this is probably hard to believe but I used to be the quintessential boycotting type Christian.
    If I was like I used to be I would be calling for a boycott.

    What made me rethink my stand on boycotting stuff was when I found out Harley Davidson and Levi Strauss offered benefits to same sex couples years ago.
    I decided the hell with boycotting because I only wear Levis and I won't own any motorcycle except a Harley.
    Look at me today. Hellbound riding a Harley and wearing Levis dungarees.

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  48. Debby Haugh said...

    Thank you for a perfect, reasonable response to a ridiculous perceived persecution!

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  49. Audrey Green Morahan said...

    Once again my friend you speak the truth. Namaste

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  50. Jean Wilkey De Sousa said...

    Exactly!!

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  51. Catherine Stauffert said...

    I do boycott companies, but over environmental or ethical reasons. A red coffee cup is arguably an environmental issue, but if you bring your own, problem solved. These people aren't protesting for environmental protection, they're being petty because Starbucks has never had overtly Christian symbols printed on their cups.

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  52. Hannah Aaron said...

    YES!!!!! TRUTH!!!! My father, who is a minister, taught on all you just posted. I heard this when I was younger and I, personally, have never believed Christ was born in December.

    I love this, Bishop, and thank you SO MUCH for posting it. I love it so much, I have to read it again and share it!

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  53. Jeff Bowen said...

    The mermaid keeps looking at me.

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  54. Christine Williams said...

    You go! Well said!!

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  55. Laura Marie Lamb said...

    And this is why I have always loved listening to you speak. You don't just deliver a solid message; you know your history, you have the facts to back up what you're saying. People act like they have these few holidays to celebrate their faith, but isn't that something that should be done everyday? Just like we don't need Valentine's Day to say I Love You. And the Easter thing, lol, as my favorite person Mr. Izzard would say, "eggs are for fertility, bunnies are for shagging - it's the Spring Festival!" Can I say shagging on here? Er, guess I just did it twice.

    Either way, point is, I concur! Yes to all.

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  56. Zach Keough said...

    To add onto which Bishop Jim already expounded, I discovered years ago - during my last deployment to Iraq - that the celebration of Christmas occurs in/around Winter Solstice because Persians celebrate Shab e Cheleh on this day. What's so significant about Winter Solstice? Glad you asked. Ancient Persians believed that the shortest day of the year marked the beginning of when days actually become longer, hence "light" overcomes "darkness" (hence, the birth of Mithras, the Persian god of light). But, this festive celebration far predates Chrismas, and Christianity for that matter, but as a form of celebration from the ancient religion Zoroaster. There are several reasons attributing as to why Christians celebrate Christmas on 25 December, and not on 21 December, when Winter Solstice typically occurs. But, as Bishop Jim alluded, prior to the 4th Centure CE, Christians typically celebrated this event anywhere between January and April (as determined by the Gregorian calendar). It wasn't until the first Christian Roman Emperor, Constantine, who converged the celebration of Christmas with that of Roman, Persian, and other pagan festivities somewhere between 325 CE and 336 CE. In light of this information - no pun intended - I'm not sure why many Christians believe they have exclusive right(s) to this wonderful time of the year. Maybe it's due to their lack of knowledge and ignorance. Either way, Emperor Constantine had every intention for Christians to celebrate this wonderful time of the year with folk of other religions, maybe (JUST MAYBE) so that Christians would celebrate the kind acts of giving, sharing feasts, and gift exchanges to promote and encourage unity within his empire.

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  57. Hannah Aaron said...

    You know, I wonder if God Himself is just rolling His eyes, face/palm, and heavy-sigh on this whole thing, too.

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  58. Brenda Baugh said...

    This why I love you. Can't wait to be well enough to get back to church.

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  59. Jonna Timmons Stickel said...

    "If your Jesus is all whiney" .... Best line ever ! "My people perish from a lack of knowledge" comes to mind, and if I may also say that knowledge encompasses both head and heart.

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  60. Amy Hamrick said...

    LOVE YOU BISH!!

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  61. Jane Childs Carr said...

    Amen. Thanks for this.

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