Our little rural town is getting all gussied up for the holiday season. It’s the week before Thanksgiving and already the holiday decorations are up around town. The day after Thanksgiving is the town’s official start of the holiday season. The holiday lights will all come on, the ice rink will open, holiday music will be all we hear, and there will be a festive celebration in the Marketplatz.
And the war of words will begin.
This past week, one of our city councilmen ranted about it being the Christmas season, not the holiday season. Apparently there’s been quite a debate about the nativity scene and where it should be located, what the banners say throughout town (Merry Christmas vs, Happy Holidays), and who are we catering to in the first place, locals or tourists. The councilman even said he didn’t care if what he said was offensive and he proceeded to be exactly that. For all of his proclamation of being a Christian and being sick and tired of the real reason for the season not being acknowledged, his behavior certainly indicated something else. It was awful.
Jesus had a prickly relationship with the religious leaders of his day. He was annoyed by their strident behavior, constrictive rules, and holier-than-thou attitudes toward everyone outside their circle. He was known to call them a brood of vipers or whitewashed sepulchers.
He also had this to say to them:
Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good things, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person brings good things out of a good treasure, and the evil person brings evil things out of an evil treasure (Matthew 12:33-35).
He also had this to say to his friends:
The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life (John 6:63).
If God were to send us a postcard from heaven, I think it might say something like this:
Dearest Child ~
Pay attention to the words you say today. Your words are the evidence of your heart. The mouth speaks the things that are in your heart. As the fruit tree tells what kind of tree it is, your words will tell the kind of person you are inside. Whatever you have stored up in your secret self will be revealed by what you are saying to those around you. Your words have the power to destroy or restore, to tear down or build up, to demoralize or encourage. When you are filled to overflowing with my Spirit, your words cannot help but be a blessing to others. Jesus said, The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. Dwell on these words so that the words which overflow from you may also be life-giving. Speak blessings today.
Your Guide ~ God