Seeing Red


The Christmas Wars have started early this year. An Arizona evangelist and social-media personality is upset that Starbucks has removed traditional holiday symbols of snowflakes and ornaments from their coffee cups, switching to solid red. “Starbucks REMOVED CHRISTMAS from their cups because they hate Jesus,” claims Joshua Feuerstein on his Facebook page. Feuerstein has urged Christians who patronize Starbucks to give their names as “Merry Christmas” so baristas will be forced to announce the traditional holiday greeting. A student pastor in Florida is also agitated about the red-cup decision, vowing never to visit Starbucks again and blasting the coffee giant for their “political correctness.”

After reading this story, the first question that popped into my head was, “When did Christians expect secular companies  to proclaim the message of Christmas?” Other questions followed like, “What exactly do snowflakes and jingle bells have to do with the mystery of the Incarnation?”

The early church didn’t exactly live in a Christmas-friendly culture and look what they did. They powerfully carried their message without benefit of cars or jets. They had no internet to blog or tweet about Jesus, no smartphones to capture the crucifixion or resurrection of their Master. And still they “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). Paul, Peter and the rest of the apostles didn’t expect merchants to advance the Gospel; God had entrusted them, as believers, to do the job. And they did it with humility, not hubris.

I say let corporate America expunge traditional Christmas greetings and symbols all they want. That gives the church a clear playing field to share the real meaning of Christmas – not Santa or Rudolph or even a cute baby in a manger, but the earth-shattering visit of a Man who had the fullness of Deity residing in Him.


  1. Reply
    Dan Gmyrek says

    Thanks Mark. When I saw the first published items on this I thought “Who Cares?” Of all of the things to be concerned about, this is so far down the list it requires exponential notation to list the page number.

  2. Reply
    Sam Caldwell says

    Nice. Very well said. Also, send my repost on FB of Frank Rahm’s article.

  3. Reply
    Pat says

    Well said, Mark. I found comfort in your words and courage to not respond negatively or in anger. May God continue to speak through your voice.

  4. Reply
    Merry Christmas says

    Of course it is beyond debate that the meaning and celebration of Christmas has been debased by a commercial culture that values profit above all. For commercial culture, the focus of Christmas is sales margin and volume. Perfectly understandable. The stockholders must be served. And given that most stockholders are institutions, institutional interest must be upheld. Institutions place no value on Christ. In institutional processes, red cups have their place. Christmas much less Christ… no.

    How are Christians to live faithfully in the midst of that culture? Are Christians to meekly subordinate their faith to the scruples of that culture? Do they accommodate their expression to the restrictions of that culture? Are only those who accept the ghettoization of faith in Christ genuine followers of Christ?

    Not if but when that same culture commercializes the celebrations of Judaism and Islam as profit making opportunities, what will be the expectation of those who follow Judaism or Islam? Will they be expected to follow the same course of subordination and accommodation?

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