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November 10, 2015, 12:00 AM

It's Not About Your Coffee Cup...

As we enter the holiday season, it seems we must inevitably deal with people who feel divinely called to rant about a "war on Christmas."

This year, the rant is focused upon...of all things...a coffee cup.

Joshua Feuerstein, has made himself a internet celebrity by posting a whole series of angry videos in which he rages against atheists, evolution, and gay marriage.  In his video on same-sex marriages, he claims that Christians are being persecuted  because gay people can marry, and ends up waving his assault rifle around, indicating that he is ready to kill in defense of Christ.  (See picture.)

Just how this comports with what Jesus taught or did, is something he doesn't bother to explain.

Tragically, this guy grabs headlines while all sorts of Christians performing countless acts of everyday compassion are ignored.

Now, he has turned his rage against Starbuck's Coffee cups.

Not being much of a coffee drinker, I hadn't really noticed that Starbuck's coffee cups have normally taken on special colors and designs for the holiday season.  But, Mr. Feuerstein...ever on the watch for reasons to be offended and to claim persecution...noted that this year, the cups are devoid of snowflakes, or pine trees, or anything else.  They're just plain red.

Apparently, this is the work of the Anti-Christ.  Because not having snowflakes on your coffee cup is a clear renunication of the Lord Jesus Christ.  (Surely, it must say this somewhere in Mr. Feuerstein's version of the Bible.)

Not having his rifle at hand, he launched a counter-attack against the heathen coffee shop by telling them his name was "Merry Christmas" so that when the barista called out his order, that's what he had to yell.  He couldn't help but congratulate himself on his cleverness at witnessing for Christ before the godless at Starbuck's.

And that, boys and girls, is how Josh Feuerstein saved Christmas!


Actually, there has long been a war on Christmas, and it has had nothing to do with the color of your coffee cups.

It has to do with how Christmas has been hijacked and turned into an orgy of self-indulgent materialism rather than a grateful and joyful rememberance of how the Creator took on humble flesh to idenitfy with the poor, the powerless, the rejected, and the outcast.  But then, those folks don't exactly boost sales at the shopping malls...

Here is what Christmas is REALLY about...

A dirt poor pair of peasants found themselves dealing with a scandalous and unplanned pregnancy that would have made them the targets of all sorts of judgmental gossip.  The Gospel of Matthew says they got married before the baby actually showed up.  But, the Gospel of Luke only describes them as "betrothed" (engaged) when the child was born.

Luke also says that they were too poor and powerless to get decent lodging.  Something he doesn't mention is the presence of any other family with Mary and Joseph.  In that society, it was traditional for the mother or mother-in-law to be present as a midwife.  Such a helpful presence would be especially useful for a couple forced to travel far from home at such a difficult time.  But, they weren't there.

To ancient readers, this would have indicated that the families of Mary and Joseph were so scandalized and embarrassed by Mary's untimely pregnancy, that they had rejected the young couple because of it.  (Or maybe they just didn't like the color of their coffee mugs.)

Luke also says that the first people to visit the child were shepherds.  Back in that time, shepherds were considered sleazeballs, who couldn't find respectable jobs.  The Savior of the World was greeted by the Scum of the Earth.

So, God chose just about the least likely person through whom to make an entry on earth.  And in so doing, God essentially said..."There is no one so low, so outcast, so worthless, so broken that I do not care for and identify with them.  I love them all!"

In short, the loving presence of God can be found in the most seemingly godless places and people.

That's the Good News.

The challenge is for us to see that and proclaim it.

When you realize that God could use somene as obscure as Mary and Joseph and as unlikely as their son, to change the world, then you also realize that YOU can be a vessel and agent of God's transforming grace!

What if we put our energy into lifting the spirits of someone who feels hopeless or alone and fears there is no love for them?  What if we put time into helping someone who is poor and who feels worthless?  What is we did these things in the name of Jesus Christ, instead of launching petty rants about coffee cups and raging that we are being "persecuted" because not everyone agrees with us?  What if we made Christmas less about scrambling for stuff and more about compassion and community? We make war on Christmas, when we reduce Christmas to Black Friday stampedes and ridiculous rants about being persecuted because your coffee cup doesn't have snowflakes on it

Let's keep our eye on the ball, people.  Better yet, let's keep our eye on the child who came to show us that God's love is for the least of us, as much as anyone else.

"And they will call him 'Emmanuel' which means 'God With Us!'" - Matthew 1:23

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