Holiday Coffee Cups And Being Thankful

Starbucks cupsAs many know, Starbucks has brought out their holiday cups which do not mention which holiday we’re celebrating. A former pastor named Joshua Feuerstein, who now seems to make his living, according to the Washington Post, by making video rants and DVDs for which he accepts donations, posted his infamous complaint of this year’s cup:

Feuerstein claims that Starbucks wanted to “take Christ and Christmas off of their brand new cups” because, according to the caption on his video, “they hate Jesus.”

Feuerstein goes on to explain that when he visited a Starbucks store, he told the employee making his drink that his name was “Merry Christmas” so that his cup would read “Merry Christmas.” He later says “Guess what, Starbucks? Just to offend you, I made sure to wear my Jesus Christ shirt into your store (“Why #MerryChristmasStarbucks is Everything Wrong with American Christianity” by Nate Lake)

Apparently a good number of Mr. Feuerstein’s two million Facebook followers punched the “Like” button, and he, who would “stick it to Starbucks” appeared on CNN.

Sadly his complaint now stands as representative of Christians. Except, any number of believers (like Nate Lake in the article I quoted above) have taken issue with what he’s trying to accomplish, and more importantly, how he’s going about it. There’s also the push back to the idea that this rant against Starbucks is a Christian complaint.

All well and good until some people started complaining about those who were complaining about Mr. Feuerstein’s complaint.

And we haven’t even celebrated Thanksgiving yet.

In fact, I wonder if all this complaint leaves room for us to celebrate Thanksgiving. Are we Christians indeed a thankful people? Or are we an entitled lot who think a secular company owes us a holiday cup that acknowledges Jesus Christ? Or that secular media owes us a correct characterization of who Christians are and what we believe? Or who think we should, like the secularists, be guided by all that is politically correct.

It seems a little silly, but the core issue seems to be, I love Jesus and you should too, but because you don’t, I’m going to boycott you. Or rant against you. And purposefully offend you.

The counter then became, I love Jesus and you’re sullying His name by your offensive tactics and giving the media and all secularists an occasion to mock Christians.

Which then engendered, Why are you making an issue of something so trivial? Stop protesting so much.

Mr. Lake’s article, with which I agree in principle, is a call for Christians to treat those in our society who don’t believe as we do, with meekness.

I read another article by Pastor Kevin DeYoung, with which I also agree for the most part, entitled “Christmas Is Not For Cranks.” The call here is to see the light in our society and not just the dark:

The same malls that may wish to rid their public space of the most innocuously “Christian” greetings, will pump out the most blatant Christian propaganda from their loud speakers by playing “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “Silent Night,” and “Joy to the World.” Let’s not curse the darkness when there is still much light for which we can give thanks.

Well, yes.

But maybe we should first realize that Christmas actually is for cranks. We, cranks and offended alike, are sinners standing in need of the Savior whose coming we ostensibly are celebrating.

I think there’s one way we can check our attitude about Christmas: by first celebrating Thanksgiving. I know as a holiday here in the US it’s been reduced to a big family dinner (usually, but not always, with turkey), football, and, of late, shopping, or at least plans for shopping.

Don’t get me wrong. I love seeing my family, I love turkey dinners with all the scrumptious dishes I never make any other time of the year, and I love football (shopping less so! 😉 ). But lost in all the plans and preparation and travel and conversations and hilarity is a time of actual thanksgiving. In my family we still pray before our meal, and we do thank God for what He’s given, but when we stack up all the other things we do, thanksgiving gets a mighty small sliver.

Of course, I can’t say what others do apart from our time together. What I’m really concerned about is what I do, in my heart, as I approach Christmas and celebrate Thanksgiving. There’s a line in Psalm 84 about singing for joy to the living God. Every time I come to it, I think, I want my life to be filled with joy so that it overflows in song.

I don’t think I get there by complaining.

Not that I think we should shut our eyes to offenses. But there are ways to address offenses that aren’t offensive.

In this regard, I think Mr. Lake is right that Christ’s quality of meekness is a great guide, but I think it should apply to our treatment of the cranks as much as it should to those who ban Merry Christmas.

Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Love isn’t a plastic smile on Sunday morning. Rather it causes us to listen to others, to ask God how we should respond, to put the needs of others first.

I’m speaking to myself here and feeling very convicted. But I’m also understanding something in a new way. The fruit of the Spirit, as I’ve heard before, encompasses love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. These are not “fruits” but “fruit.” It’s a package deal.

In other words, my desire to have a life filled with joy can’t happen in isolation from love and love can’t happen if it’s cut off from gentleness, which in turn is connected tightly to self-control. It’s a package.

Interesting, though, that thankfulness isn’t on the list. Yet Scripture commands us to be thankful any number of times. And to rejoice.

I’m thinking now that thanksgiving should not be something we wait to incorporate on Thanksgiving Day. And yes, I’ve heard over and over the charge that everyday should be thanksgiving day. But really, there is a time to celebrate. God instituted feast days for the people of Israel. It’s good and right and proper to think specially about what God has given us for which we can be thankful.

But maybe we should have the twelve days of thanksgiving. Or the thirty days. I know some people have determined to express gratitude for something different every day of the month. I like traditions and even some ritual. Maybe this is the time to employ it, at least a little.

Maybe between now and Christmas, I’ll employ a little ritualistic thanksgiving as part of my preparation to celebrate God giving the world His only begotten Son.


  1. That’s a good word. It’s unreasonable to think that a non-Christian company should act in Christian ways. This whole saga reminds me of an English preacher named Robert Chapman who was spit upon and abused by a local grocer long ago. When Robert Chapman recommended the grocer to a friend, the grocer was surprised. The outcome of that story was that the grocer came to saving faith through the kindness and patience of Robert Chapman. We could use even the perceived wrongs of a company to bless those who are employed there, thus shining the light of Christ to those who even hate him.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This was great Becky, thank you so much for writing it. This whole episode and that guy’s reaction to it have made me almost ill. Last time I checked, our mission is to reach people with the Gospel, not crusade against them for their activities. @Gene you captured exactly the thought here. Why would we expect non Christians to act like Christians(like we should act, anyway). Heathens act like heathens because they are…well…heathens. I acted like one when I was, so I assume that is normal. As far as hating Jesus? Well, don’t we all hate God before we come to salvation? I believe His Word teaches us that.

    Here is the real problem I have with guys like this and others who behave like he does. It’s almost as if he is saying…”If you clean up your act, Christians(and by implication, God) will find you acceptable. In other words, you clean it up and work your way to salvation. That is dangerous stuff. We should NEVER be in the business of making people think they have to get better to be one of us.Making us improved versions of ourselves is the work of the Holy Spirit, not the work of our own hands. When we teach people otherwise, we endanger their eternity.

    Good post, thanks for letting me rave just a bit!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Becky, we don’t celebrate Christmas but I enjoyed reading this. It made me see once again how mistaken it is to expect the world to be Christian. It’s the world, plain and simple.
    God bless – good writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Amen, Becky, well said! People these days seem to be taking offense at every little thing, including some of those calling themselves Christians. It’s a powder keg out there. We need calmer heads to prevail.


  5. If we want atheist or others to respect our views we must also respect them. Why is Starbucks a none Christian company not representing Christ so surprising? They have a right to sell whatever type of cup they want. Are we really going to boycott them, because of this? Donald Trump says to boycott them a man who is afraid to speak of his so called faith.

    Why are we as Christians not, speaking up for our brothers and sisters being beheaded by ISIS? Why are we not, speaking up for those girls who were stolen by Boko Homrad or whatever his name is. A little red cup is not something to worry about. We need to stop judging for that is not our role. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Absolutely love this article. I do believe that people have made a bigger stink than needed. Christians are supposed to love , and a simple coffee cup doesn’t define Jesus any less. He is more than a CUP. Starbucks , like any other non believer out there, should be treated with kindness not bashed and judged. We are the ones to make Jesus shine, not a coffee cup. Well written. People get offended way to easily nowadays.


  7. *facepalm* I don’t understand people sometimes. Cups!? I’m more concerned about what’s in the cup…my peppermint tea with six sugars.


    *drops mike*

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! And one is the terrible tragedy in Paris tonight. May God comfort them and give them courage to be Christians as Jesus told us to “love your enemies and do good to those that hate you.” That will take time.Understanding different cultures is more important than coffee cups.


  8. I was really interested to see this rhetorical question: ” Or that secular media owes us a correct characterization of who Christians are and what we believe?”
    It’s linked to other things I’ve been thinking about lately, and it’s an insight I’m glad to have added to those thoughts. Thanks 🙂


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