Recently Olean, New York and the surrounding area has been driven into a frenzy at times over the public display of a nativity set on the lawn of city hall. I’ve read with interest the articles pro and con in the local newspaper defending or condemning the decision. Politicians and other scalawags use religion as a method to divide the electorate and it’s become so common that we fall for it without question. Is this really the spirit of Christ or even Christmas? What is Christmas after all if not a holiday. It’s probably not the actual birth of Christ. It was picked as the official birth of Christ sometime after his death. The New Testament does not give a specific date for his birth. According to Wikipedia the first celebrations of Christ’s birth began nearly 350 years after his death. Far more important than the historical birth of Christ is the message of Christ. That’s what needs to be reaffirmed. Whether or not there is a display of shepherds, animals and wise men we need an affirmation of the message of Christ.
I’d love to see a manger scene where all the characters didn’t look like they were white anglo-saxons. I’d love to see more displays that characterize the universality of Christ. How about a black messiah, or an Arab messiah. Why not celebrate our diversity? Why not use Christmas as a time to lift up the poor, the disenfranchised? Why not work for peace? Why not declare a moratorium in our war policy? Couldn’t we suspend the killing for one month in honor of Christ? How about a tax forgiveness for those who cannot afford to pay? For Christ’s sake couldn’t we give health insurance to the 38 million Americans who don’t have any for just the month of December.
But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, A spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD, and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD. Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide, But he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips. Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them. The cow and the bear shall be neighbors, together their young shall rest; the lion shall eat hay like the ox. The baby shall play by the cobra’s den, and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair. There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD, as water covers the sea.–Isaiah 11:1-10