Believe me, I never thought I'd find myself writing about what a coffee cup can teach us about Catholicism. However, the annual Starbucks red cup has been generating a trenta-sized dose of controversy.
Grabbing a cup of coffee on the go, or with a friend, is so often part of the daily routine. I've always enjoyed the holiday cups from Starbucks as a welcome, gentle reminder that the holidays are near. Nothing forceful or agenda-ridden. Just a small little sign that Christmas is upon us.
I'd like to offer a disclaimer: I do think that taking a persons faith and shrinking it down to a coffee cup is ridiculous. The diverse faith traditions that celebrate holidays during the winter months are so much more complex, rich, and beautiful than this "controversy" would permit. However, I do believe this incident has pointed out a problem for faith communities at large.
For many, this cup is just another attack on Christianity--the hashtag-ready #WarOnChristmas. Because this cup is not covered in mangers, snowflakes, holly, and the latest toy endorsed by Santa (because it is all about capitalism, right?) it can't POSSIBLY represent Christmas. Yet, when you really think about it--isn't the simplistic message exactly what Christmas is supposed to be about?
When Christ came--and God took on our earthly form--he could have come in any manner of ways. However, Jesus was born in a simple manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes, after his parents were given nowhere else to go. It's hard to imagine a birth that was less flashy or more humble.
Now I don't think Starbucks intended for any of this to happen--and there are certainly countless more pressing issues we should be thinking about. But before we start declaring another "War On Christmas" maybe Christians should ask themselves what Christmas should look like in the first place.
I believe our faith calls us to simplicity, humility, and a shared holiday experience, rather than one where symbolism is forcefully fed to others in the name of Christianity. When we demand flashiness and attention, we are not fighting a War on Christmas, we're driving a wedge between God's children. So this holiday season, let's embrace these red cups as an opportunity to show the world what the holidays are all about: humble and simple service to The Lord, and one another.