December 24, 2018 10:00 AM
This week’s Courier Herald column:
Welcome to Christmas week.
After a season of preparation, the Christmas season is when those of us
in the Christian faith celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It’s also when too many of us fall short of
living as an example of his teachings, myself included.
The rush of over scheduling and the focus on gift-giving too often leave us missing the entire point of the celebration. As this is typically a political column, a specific mention of our refusal to declare an armistice on political debate when with friends and loved ones deserves some attention.
It’s not that there wasn’t politics involved in the
Christmas story. It does, after all,
begin with a decree from the king that there was to be a census and a tax. There are issues of housing and health care
delivery that led to Jesus being born in a manger. For those that believe this our President (or
our last President) have committed historical lows, perhaps a refresher on King
Herod’s decree to kill all the male children under the age of two were to be
killed is in order.
Yes, politics is part of the
Christmas story. It is not, however, the
point of the story.
The Christmas story still resonates because it marks the
birth of the triumph over current events.
It is one of hope and peace. It
is one that aims high when the world has gone low.
The entire story is one of a baby who becomes a leader that
trashes the status quos of the day. That
puts prostitutes and tax collectors on the same plane as the pure and the pious. It is one that rejects stations in this life
by both circumstance and choice for an option of a better life both now and for
It is one that commands us to “love thy neighbor” and
reminds us that even those we aren’t like, and often do not like, are
Too often my Christian friends succumb to the trope that
there is a “War on Christmas” as if we are the only ones celebrating this time
of year. We’re not.
The real war on Christmas is too often one of self-creation,
when we choose to act as if those practicing other religions or non-believers
are to conform to our customs because we believe we’re in the majority. That’s not how our country works, and
certainly isn’t living an ideal example of Christ.
The Christmas story is the beginning, and Easter is the
equal and opposite bookend. Easter has a
more specific political message. It is,
after all, where the fate of Jesus wasn’t left up to God or even the King, but
to the will of the people.
It should always be noted for all who like to mix their
religion and politics that the only time Jesus was on the ballot, Barabbas won
the election. Truth, especially with
respect to religious belief, should never be left to the popular vote.
Of perhaps equal importance, a political disagreement should
never be the reason that family and friends cannot celebrate consequential moments
of life together. Politics are
important, but they are but a means to an end.
As we go about our Christmas week and into the new year,
perspective is important. Politics will
always be with us and, for the foreseeable future at least, will likely be used
to divide us. As the Christmas story
becomes the Easter story, let those of us who believe both use them as a
reminder to keep politics and the ultimate goal in proper perspective.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours.