December 16, 2008

The Real Meaning and Freedom of Christmas

by Donald G. Mashburn

After tripping on their own political correctness last year, some of the biggest of the Bigs among retailers, such as Wal-Mart, Lowe’s and Target, seemed to have seen the light on what Christmas means to some of their customers. But only after they were smartly “bah-ed and humbugged” by customers who didn’t like the retailers’ avoidance of “Christmas” in their ads and store displays.

Nativity scenes in public places still bring knee-jerk reactions from the intolerant. And in schools, signs depicting or naming Christ in Christmas plays, students’ drawings, and banners are enough to bring on a case of the vapors for the Christ-intolerant and their supporters. They and their unwitting allies have, for many, hijacked the traditional Christmas season.

The hijacking has been facilitated by the commercial orgy that has distorted what Christmas used to mean to most of us. It’s no wonder that in the minds of many students – and, sadly, many adults – the real meaning and substance of Christmas have become blurred.

The hijackers are led by atheists and anti-religion groups, supported by the likes of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the National Education Association (NEA), and their ilk in their efforts to ban any sign of Christ in schools and public places.

But the real substance of Christmas – the Christ of Christmas – is not a banner, a tree, or a manmade display. The real meaning of Christmas is what it means to those who believe that Jesus came from God to die on the cross to atone for our sins and the sins of the world.

They also believe in a constitutional right to the free exercise of their religion, and they oppose efforts to discriminate against them for doing so. They object to the discriminatory actions of school administrators banning or prohibiting anything with Christian significance, while approving decisions to permit Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Islamic displays.

Christians do feel discriminated against, when anti-Christian activists protest hearing or seeing any public display or mention of the name of Jesus. Schools that banned “Merry Christmas” claimed its “religious significance” somehow violated the separation of church and state. One reportedly removed “Christmas” from its calendar so students would not be exposed to the “Christ” part of “Christmas.”

Christian hymns, such as “Silent Night,” can put some school administrators, and a few anti-Christian parents, into a tizzy.

In the liberal world of political-correctness-gone-goofy, “Happy Holidays” fits the season of commercialism better than “Merry Christmas.” But only short years ago, Christmas had special meaning: It was the day we celebrated the coming of the Savior of the world, the Prince of Peace, “Immanuel, ... God with us.” (Matthew 1:23)

Those who are cynical and intolerant of the Christ of Christmas should take a close look at this Jesus, who although He Himself was sinless, willingly suffered the agony and shame of the cross for our sins.

And the empty tomb gave irrefutable and timeless testimony that He was who He said He was, the Son of God. And the empty tomb was evidence that God accepted His perfect sacrifice, and that He was worthy in God’s sight to be the Redeemer of imperfect mankind.

This historical, resurrected Christ does not live in the commercial tinsel and glitter of the secularized “Christmas Season.” He lives in the hearts of changed men, women and children whose lives have been transformed by the teachings, life, death and resurrection of the babe born in a manger on that first Christmas night.

His miracles have continued in divinely transformed lives, from the first martyr, Stephen, and the martyred apostles, to those who witness and stand for what’s right today. These changed lives attest to the divinity, power and real meaning of the Christ whose coming we celebrate on Christmas.

Christmas without Christ is empty. Against His life, death and resurrection, the worldly trappings of Christmas fade to nothing. If we see Christmas only as a time to acquire “stuff,” we rob ourselves of the real meaning of Christmas. The stuff acquired at Christmas, and in life, is of no lasting significance – a one-day garage sale will take care of most of it after we’re gone.

The meaning of Christmas is too important to miss: Christ came; He loved us enough to suffer and die for us; and He’s coming again!

And neither school superintendents nor the anti-God types that intimidate them with threats of lawsuits by ACLU lawyers can change that.


PERSPECTIVE

Roses and Skunk Cabbage Awards for 2008

By Donald G. Mashburn

Thanks to the generally great performance of our service men and women this past year, there were many occasions that called for the “Award of Roses.” Unfortunately, our own Congress saw to it that we also needed big loads of skunk cabbage for the “Award of Skunk Cabbage” in order to properly recognize performances that graded from bad to incredibly inept.

Roses, and a big “Thank You,” are due from a nation that should be grateful to President George W. Bush for keeping the USA safe since 9/11 from further attacks by terrorists. He has held steadfastly to policies that helped keep this nation secure, despite the hatred from the extreme Left, and the sorry agenda-driven present Congress.

Roses, and a nation-big group hug from all of us to our superb men and women in the military who were the boots on the ground and the fingers on the triggers that gave substance and strength to the global battle against terrorism.

Roses to the skilled and hard-working men and women in the energy resources industries that make it possible to for us to live in comfort in our heated and air-conditioned houses. We can also jump in reliable and comfortable gasoline-powered cars to drive a short distance for food and other necessities, or entertainment, or drive anywhere in the country, most often on roads made smooth by asphalt obtained from crude oil.

Roses, special bouquets of them, to the hard workers on oil derricks and in refineries, and to the coal miners, all of whom at significant personal risk produce the oil, natural gas, and coal that fuels our automobiles and gives us most of the electricity that powers our comforts and necessities.

Skunk Cabbage – big loads of it – to Congress that refuses to do anything beneficial to increase this nation’s energy supplies. With vast quantities of undrilled oil reserves in northern Alaska, and off the coasts of the Lower 48, this inept Congress apparently prefers to have us continue sending hundreds of billions of dollars to foreign countries for their oil. And for what? For the most part, to satisfy the environmental extremists in the Democratic Party.

And voters should not forget, that drilling for oil in the banned areas would not “use up” anything other than the oil and gas produced, and would not preserve anything that can’t be preserved with responsible and wise use of newer technology.

Roses to those governors of South Carolina, Texas and other states who have publicly declared they do not want government bailouts with taxpayer dollars.

Skunk Cabbage to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and other governors who have reached – with palms up – towards Washington, pleading for the feds to ship loads of our taxpayer dollars to their states, because they spent far beyond their ability to pay. Taxpayers should not be saddled with more debt to cover the inabilities of states like California to manage their financial resources.