Judge Not Your Neighbor’s Animatronic Reindeer Lest Your Chocolate Chow Mein Noodle Clumps Be Judged: an exhortation

Don’t steal anyone else’s joy this Christmas.

The sacred and the secular twist like candycane stripes this time of year. It’s okay. God is not confused. He knows which is worship of his Son and which is enjoyment of small customs and traditions with friends and family. But some people have just been MEAN lately! So let’s talk about that.

In the Song of Solomon 2:15, the speaker says, “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.” This audience would have known the destructive nature of the fox in agriculture, so it stands for a metaphor for anything that can whittle down, come against, flatten, thwart, or wreck the couple’s love.

“Love came down at Christmas,” writes Christina Rosetti in 1885. “Love all lovely, love divine.” It is the love God had for the world which compelled him to send his one and only Son and name him Immanuel, God with us. Spiritual love, family love, erotic love, the love of a friend—all love was invented by the smartest, most compassionate, most generous Creator. Foxes, in all their crafty forms, threaten love.

That’s why it is especially small-hearted of us to mock other people’s holiday traditions, customs, foodstuffs, decorations, or any other thing that brings pleasure. I’ve done it, we’ve all done it—and I heard some doozies this week at the store! It is normal to have likes and preferences, and most of us do not need to be reminded “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” but we must CATCH the little foxes, not be the fox in someone else’s vineyard. It is an easy thing to let people enjoy what they enjoy, if what they enjoy is not sin.

But sometimes we are legitimately not the problem. We’ve gotten over ourselves, we celebrate with others, we may even go so far as to call our friend from the store to tell her we have located the pre-lit 1970’s ceramic Nostalgia Tree she’s been looking for and should we pick one up before they are all sold out?! (shout-out to Rachel P.—MY TREE IS DIVINE). Anyway, sometimes the threat to the vineyard is not our small hearts, it is the sin of others. There’s not one right response for all of these situations; sometimes we confront, sometimes we ignore, but we always forgive, and we always pray. Foxes gonna fox.

We temporarily forget what a powerful force God is when we see the infant holy, infant lowly this time of year, but the Lord is our defender. His faithfulness is our shield and buckler. He is robed in majesty with strength as a belt. So don’t let any foxes steal your joy this Christmas and for goodness’ sake, don’t be a fox! If we remember what love moved heaven and earth to bring comfort and joy, there will be no room for foxes of any kind. Hallelujah, all kinds of holiday cookies are welcome at the wedding feast of the Lamb.

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