Christmas these days seems to stress people out more than give them the joy that it was meant to give. As people get busier and busier, they find themselves always looking down: at the next text message, the next email, the next status update on Facebook. What has all this racing around, looking down at some electronic device done? Could it be that the stress so often accompanying this time of year is of our own making? It’s made us forget times that were simpler…Christmases past that seemed to hold more magic, more beauty, more imagination.
Maybe it’s time to stop looking down for a while and start to notice things again. Today we have a Christmas Moon—a rare event– a full moon on Christmas Day. It’s the first time in nearly four decades that that has happened, and it won’t happen again for another 19 years. The sky was beautiful last night, and the moon was bright. It’s not politically correct any more to say “Merry Christmas” or to even use THAT WORD in some places (like our public schools), but last night’s sky, at least where I was, reminded me of that first Christmas that gave us this opportunity to celebrate the birth of Christ every year.
Even though we don’t know the exact date of the Savior’s birth, it still started with a starry night and Wise Men from the East who had been observing the nighttime skies and studying ancient prophesies for quite some time before they noticed one star in particular. It seemed to be different from the others—bigger, brighter, and more magnificent. So they followed it, for what may have been as long as 2 years after the actual birth. When they found the Young King and His parents, they presented him with precious gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Regular folks like shepherds found Him too (even sooner than the learned mean of means did)…and the Bible tells us the child’s mother treasured all of these things in her heart. She took nothing for granted, and I can imagine that every year that went by as he grew into a boy, then a man, that she looked back with awe and fondness on the Holy Night when she first held her child in her arms.
It’s often said, “Christmas is for kids”. How wrong people are who say that. I don’t think you can really appreciate all that this season and this day has to offer until you have some wisdom of years behind you. You may not remember every gift you got for Christmas over the years, but you most likely will recall the stories of Christmases past—funny or poignant moments that you talk about together around a table full of good things to eat. Stories that are told year after year and they never seem to get old—some get even better with each retelling. Like the young woman Mary of the manger scene, you’ve been storing up those treasures of memories in your heart. They don’t get old, wear out, need batteries or fall apart after 3 days.
If you’ve been stressed out for the last several days or weeks because you were preparing for this day, consider trying something new next year: re-focus on what Christmas really is about. Before this becomes Christmas past, set aside the distractions and look around you. Return to the manger, Follow the star.
Merry Christmas, Everyone!
Santa must have his hands full these days as he makes his famous list and checks it twice, especially keeping up with the naughty side of it. With the stories popping up in the news this past week, it’s a good thing he has all of those Elves on Shelves keeping an eye on everything- they could write a book.
Of course there are the usual anti-religion freaks that always come out this time of year, like the one parent of a child at a Little Rock, AK elementary school who didn’t want her child exposed to the religious message of “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. The Agape Church in Little Rock had invited the first and second graders at Terry Elementary School to a matinee of their production of the classic Christmas story, so this one parent sought the advice of the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers. As a result, the weekday matinee for the children was canceled, and Pastor Happy Caldwell invited parents to bring their children to one of their public performances on the weekend. It should be noted that the school received no complaints from other parents, nor did the parent with issues contact the school directly…she just went straight to the ASF. Pastor Caldwell expressed his gratitude for the support of Little Rock’s school district and said, “We regret the loss of students who will not get this particular opportunity right now, we have taken the school matinees off the table.” It’s a shame that the pastor succumbed to political correctness. I’m sure there were other schools that might have enjoyed the same opportunity, even a private school. Because of one complaining intolerant parent (who could have just kept her child at home that day), all the children will miss the opportunity for a free and entertaining show. The good pastor walks a fine line between the naughty and nice list, but for choosing to be P.C. over his principles, he goes on the naughty list along with the wacky parent and the ASF, who, if they really believed in people being able to think freely, would have let this one go by them. Everyone knows that school field trips are not mandatory, and that a group of children watching a play that contains a two-minute recital of the story of Christmas from the Bible is not the same as the government establishing a state religion. Get serious. Pastor Happy, you have to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.
Definitely making the nice list would be NYPD Officer Larry DePrimo who became famous recently when a tourist in Times Square snapped a photo of him giving a pair of boots and thermal socks to a barefoot homeless man that he went out of his way to purchase with his own money:
This picture went viral as people posted it on their Facebook walls, and it wasn’t until a few days later that we all found out the truth: the barefoot man, Jeff Hillman, wasn’t homeless and was looking for his “piece of the pie” when he heard about the now-famous photo. Hillman had been living rent-free in an apartment since late last year and receives veteran’s benefits as well as disability. He has a family who has tried to help him, but he has refused them. He is also known by the city’s Homeless Services, and has been on their radar for many years, but has a history of turning down their services. In an interview with The New York Times , Hillman, once again barefoot, said he was grateful to the officer for his kindness, but he had hidden the shoes because, “They are worth a lot of money…I could lose my life.” Hooray for Officer DePrimo for going above and beyond the call of duty to show kindness to this man, but Mr. Hillman has to be on the naughty list for refusing help when it’s offered. It’s very sad that he could do better for himself, but won’t.
Finally in California, some senior citizens are pretty riled because they were told they must remove their Christmas tree from the community room of their apartment complex because it is a “religious symbol”. And that goes for the menorah too, by the way. Earlier this week, JB Partners Group Inc. in Tarzana sent a memo to the staff of The Willows in which they made their demand, even though the company has owned the property for four years and this is the first time this has happened. One resident, who is Jewish, is among those protesting the tree’s removal. Frances Shaeffer told the Daily News, “This tree is a symbol of reverence that we can all enjoy regardless of our religious beliefs.” Another resident agreed. Robert Troudeau said that for some residents in the complex, this is the only tree they have and suggested we might need to look at the bigger picture of what’s really important. He said, “There are people overseas fighting for our freedoms and dying and we’re here fighting over things like this. It’s a shame.” It’s always good to see people take a stand for what they believe in as these seniors did, but thumbs down to JB Partners Group Inc. for their Scrooge-like demands. ***UPDATE: THE RESIDENTS OF THE WILLOWS GOT THEIR TREE BACK (along with an armed guard to protect it!); READ ABOUT IT HERE.
Speaking of those fighting for freedom, remember that tomorrow marks the 71st anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Please pray for those who continue to guard freedom around the world and remember the ones who were lost on that Day of Infamy in 1941.