This is the season of Christmas. Christianity throughout the western world is celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. We’ve been doing so for a really long, long time. That’s because Jesus is the center of our religion and was so crucial in his impact on world history. It really grates on me when I hear someone replace Christmas with ‘holiday,’ such as, “happy holidays or we had a great time at the holiday party.” The argument for this (noxious to me) change is that: 1) many folks aren’t Christian, and 2) we must be careful not to offend them. Well, what about offending me? It has been Christmas in western culture for most of recorded history over the past two thousand years. Why are we being asked to change history? This is another ‘politically correct’ action similar to what I wrote about last week in this space. America was founded on Judeo-Christian values. That is our heritage. To assume anything different is to attempt rewriting history. It is disingenuous and contrary to our nation’s values. All of this malarkey goes back to court decisions beginning in 1947 about the “separation of church and state.” The Constitution makes no such statement. Rather Amendment 1 begins “that Congress shall make no laws establishing religion nor prohibit its citizens from practicing their own religious beliefs.” This was based on the Virginia Religious Freedom act signed by then-Governor Thomas Jefferson. Shortly after Jefferson became president in 1801, the Danbury Baptists of Connecticut wrote to congratulate him on his election and ask for assurance that he would protect their religious liberty. Jefferson’s carefully worded reply included the phrase “a wall of separation between church and state” and reassured the Danbury Baptists that their rights to practice Christianity in their way would not be eroded nor persecuted. Thomas Jefferson was a practicing Christian who believed that the Bible contained the greatest moral code ever compiled in one volume. Fast forward two centuries and now it is Christianity under attack, with all of its apertures including the celebration of Christ’s birth. This is particularly true in popular culture where the threat of ‘offending a non-believer’ is so profound that little thought or consideration is given to offending a believer. There is a side of me that says ‘don’t worry’ Christmas is so ingrained in our culture, with carols; hymns; churches; pageantries; depictions; scriptural references (particularly from Saint Luke); traditions; etc., that it cannot be expunged from western culture no matter how hard the atheists and their followers try. As draconian as the Nazis were in the 1930s, they could not purge Christianity from the German culture. We should take faith in that. I am exceedingly proud to practice my profound belief and understanding of Christianity. No one can or will take that from me. The first amendment to the Constitution protects me, and I will joyfully greet others at this time of year with “Merry Christmas.” At St. Mary’s on Thursday night, we will join in carols and hymns to welcome the birth of our Savior as we have faithfully done every Christmas Eve since 1881. Then we’ll celebrate the Holy Eucharist in memory of Jesus Christ. The church will be festively decorated with wreaths, poinsettias, a crèche and a lighted tree decorated with Christian symbols. We will read scriptural lessons that describe the event of the birth that we come together to celebrate. Our pride and joy will be palatable. We are so proud to celebrate on this day, ‘a child is born; a son is given; who is known as Christ our Lord; and he will be called wonderful, counselor, the prince of peace.’ Amen.
By: Joe Boyles