First item on the grocery list: postage stamps. In ALL CAPS. I’ve written it down three times this week, only to return with pasta, bread and milk, but no stamps.

This necessitates an emergency trip to the drugstore; I HAVE to get my Grandson’s birthday card in the mail.

While the counter clerk rings up a couple of other items (I believe there was dark chocolate in the basket), I ask for two books of stamps.
“We’ve got flags and Rudolph,” she announces. To  commemorate the upcoming holiday, obviously.

For a split second I consider mumbling something about no Madonna and Child on the stamps, or at least Jesus in the manger. After all, “that’s what Christmas is all about.”

Thank God for split seconds. They can make all the difference.

Internally, I scroll through social media’s recent protest about Starbuck’s plain red Christmas cups.  Seasonal hot beverage containers  with no design, no hint of anything that commemorated Christmas.  Supposedly missing ‘the whole point’ of the holiday.

Opinions were bandied about far and wide that Starbucks was declaring a ‘War on Christmas.’ Christians were supposed to take sides. It got ugly. And ridiculous.
Turns out the manufactured ‘controversy was generated by somebody with an iphone and a Facebook page; the sad end of the story is well, history.

I was pretty sure Jesus was okay with plain red cups; I asked for two books of Rudolph.

As the clerk handed them to me, I remarked about the charming and familiar sight of cartoon characters depicted on the page. All the old friends from Burl Ives’ 1964 classic, “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” are there—Sam the Snowman, Hermey the Elf, the Abominable Snowman, Santa himself and of course, Rudolph.

Nothing says ‘Christmas’ like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

For another split second I remember our pastor’s recent message about bringing Jesus into every conversation. I send up an arrow prayer, “God, I know Christmas is all about your Son’s birth as Saviour, not about Rudolph or Santa Claus.
I also know December 25th isn’t actually Jesus’ birthday; that’s probably not the point.
Is there a way to build a bridge here?”
I begin by commenting to the clerk about shared memories of the cartoon when it first aired on television years ago.  Chuckling together about our common ‘old age’ and love of Christmas classics, I include the young man in line behind me.

He’s probably all of 25.

I swing wide my arm and gesture towards him, including him in the conversation. Surely he’s seen the Rudolph classic?  It’s shown every year at Christmas, just like “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “A Christmas Carol.”

“Yeah, I remember watching it as a kid. It’s great. The Abominable Snowman was my favorite.  The music’s fun, too.  Who’s the guy that told the story?”

“Burl Ives.”

“Burl Ives. Yeah, they show that every year. It’s like a Christmas tradition.”

My purchase finished, I say goodnight to the clerk and the young man and head out the door.

Holy Spirit says, “That’s what Christmas is all about. Jesus came to Earth, yes, to save people but people need to get to Him first.”

The only way to bring people to Jesus is to build a bridge,laying planks of peace one conversation at a time. To reach wide our arms and our hands, invite people into the invisible Kingdom we inhabit and show them a better way.  

In the season ahead, especially in the world we’re waking up to each day, we need to find words that will bring us together, find ways to that will point to peace.

We need to share with a heart that cares about people over polemics.

And we need to remember the only red that matters is the blood our Saviour shed to free ALL of us, whether we love reindeer, Rudolph or red cups.
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