If it doesn't count for Christ, it doesn't count.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Other Side of "Those Banners"

OK.  I usually don't blog so soon after a posting.  Some things need to be set right, though, and I'm gonna try to do that. Yesterday's blog did not include the name of the particular town I was talking about.  I'm quite sure most of my readers know which one it is.  But, it's not about this city only.  It's about what is going on in communities all across our nation and the world.

I may have gotten something wrong, though, as it pertains to "our town", and I certainly want to put the other side out there for you.  It is not my goal to engage in misinformation, particularly when it leaves someone else open to criticism that they don't deserve.

About "those banners" (you can read about them in my previous post), I had a nice conversation with the mayor on the phone earlier.  I had stated that a conscious decision was made to leave "Merry Christmas" out of the mix of greetings that are on the banners.  Maybe I misunderstood, but that is what I heard from the source.  Again . . . maybe I misunderstood.  What I have now been told is that in all of the selection process, presentation to the businesses who sponsored them (whatever form that took), ordering the banners, etc. nobody noticed that there were no "Merry Christmas" banners.  Not that it has to make me happy or satisfied, but I am both happy and satisfied with the mayor's explanation.    

Next year, we will see some "Merry Christmas's" around town along with these same banners.  That's great.  Like I said, I have no problem with "Happy Holidays' and "Season's Greetings", we just should not leave "Christmas" out of Christmas!

So, apparently some other folks have been calling the city since this story was reported on a local tv station, with a little added controversy that really isn't there.  Nobody seems to know how the tv station got in on this, by the way.  I certainly don't, but, I'm thinkin' it was made to look like I was the instigator on that. In any case, I'm sorry that such a weight has fallen upon someone who does not deserve to bear it.

I have not changed my stance.  And I still believe that this is a matter of great importance not only to our community but to the "whole entire world"!  I just don't want incorrect information to be out there.  Somebody, somewhere along the line should have taken notice that the city's Christmas decorations didn't say anything about Christmas, but no single person should have to bear the brunt of responsibility for that. (This is not to say that such an oversight does not carry some responsibility somewhere.)

I am reminded, again, of something I wrote about last month following the election and a very important vote.  (See "issues with issues")  As we celebrate the birth of Jesus and contemplate all that He brought to us and restored us to, let's remember that one of His greatest desires for all of us who believe is that we be One.  Satan can so easily take our disagreements and the way we handle our disagreements to create division and resentment among us.  In our attempts to honor Christ we can actually do just the opposite, especially when we find that our self-guided words and deeds divide us from others in the Body.  Let's all remember to seek and accept the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the way we handle disagreements among ourselves.  Always approach one another in the love given to us by Jesus Himself.  We will be tempted to make it about us and our agenda, but let's strive to keep it about Him and His Kingdom.  That's another reason that it is so important not only to keep Christ in Christmas, but in everyday 24 hours-a-day life.
So, hopefully, with that, I can quote the great Forrest Gump and declare, "That's all I have to say about that."

“ Glory to God in the highest, 
      And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Have a Merry and Blessed Christmas,


PS  On another bit of misinformation; the tv station's website states that I am a resident of the particular town in question.  Easy mistake to make. But, I feel compelled to state that I am not a resident of the town. If my left throwing arm was any good, I could just about throw a rock across the city limits from my house.  We moved here a few years ago thinking that our neighborhood would be included in the city's incorporation.  Years of legal effort and money - most before we ever moved - went down the drain when a judge ruled against our petition.  My mail comes from the city, and I spend a lot of time and money in the city.  I am a supporter of the city..  Since the day we moved, I have automatically told people that this is where I live.  I do say "at" rather than "in".  If this disqualifies me from commenting on this matter, so be it.  I've been called an idiot, a cry baby, a zealot, etc.  Whatever else I am, I'm an honest one.    

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bothered By Banners

Back in 1978, Mac Davis and Bernadette Peters were in a Christmas Special on tv.  It was called "Mac Davis' Christmas Odyssey: Two Thousand and Ten".  I remember the show.  It was set in the distant future year of 2010.  "Christmas Day" was a faded memory as it had long been replaced by "Commerce Day".  There was no recollection of a celebration or observance of the birth of Christ.  There was no recollection of Christ Himself, as I recall.  I remember thinking how glad I was that nothing like that could or would ever happen.  And 2010 seemed to be so far into the future that I could not imagine what life might be like then, . . . which is now.

A couple of weeks ago I was sitting at THE major intersection in our little town when I noticed some Christmas decorations, banners, hanging on the traffic signal posts, one on each corner.  "Those are nice looking," I thought to myself. And then I began to read them.  "Happy Holidays".  "Seasons Greetings". "Happy Holidays". "Seasons Greetings".  Four corners, four posts, four banners, four "holiday messages", and not one among them offered up a "Merry Christmas".  . . .  Not one.  I pointed this out to my wife. And suddenly, they were no longer Christmas decorations.  And they were no longer as nice looking.  And they had no real meaning to me.  It was obvious that a reference to Christmas had been purposefully left out.  Any real meaning had been taken out of them.  I mean, I know we are a superficial people, but "Happy Holidays" and "Seasons Greetings" are as flimsy as tissue paper with no holiday or no season to back them up.  It's like a train without a locomotive.  The cars are all loaded, but there is no source of power to take them anywhere.

Sometimes what is not said speaks much louder than what is said.  The same goes for what is seen.  And there are different ways to say things and to present things so that the thing you are saying is well understood without actually saying it, or drawing a picture of it.  Case in point:  It used to be that saying "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings" fell right in line as another way of saying "Merry Christmas".  And for non-believers, they were a great way to acknowledge and enjoy the season as well.  "Merry Christmas's" abounded during the season and there was no purposeful effort to exclude "Merry Christmas" from acknowledgements and celebrations of the season.  "Everybody" knew that it was the CHRISTMAS season, CHRISTMAS Day was coming, and CHRIST, whether they believed or not, was THE reason for the celebration.  Also, if all was known, you would find untold numbers of "lost" people who love Christmas, love exchanging Christmas gifts, and love to say and hear "Merry Christmas". Christmas . . . CHRISTMAS . . . is a big deal to a lot of people.

Christ is the source of all true joy that is experienced during this time of year.   

So, back to what is not being said on those banners.

Each banner was sponsored by a local business, and the name of the sponsoring business was prominently displayed on the banner.  Obviously, the idea was to dress up the intersection, have local businesses pay for it, and, in return, the businesses get some advertising for adding to the "holiday cheer".  "Surely," I'm thinking, "somebody involved in all this gave some thought to what these banners were going to say!  Did they all get together and make a joint decision to leave "Christmas" out of the Christmas decorations???"  As a business owner, if my name is on something I want to know what that something has to say.  After all, if my name is on it, I am saying it, or not saying it, as the case may be. . . . One way to find out.

I called every business that advertised on the banners. They didn't know what was, or was not, going to be on them.  They were just participating in a program to decorate the city in some way, not only for the Christmas season, but for other holidays as well.  Two were surprised to learn that there was no "Merry Christmas" banner. They would not have participated had they known that would be the case.  The others really didn't seem to have a problem with it.  In fact, one seemed to have a problem with me having a problem with it!

I talked to "the city", where the banners were actually selected and purchased and, sure enough, the omission of "Merry Christmas" and the purchase of "Holiday Banners" was decided there.    

"Does every Christmas card you get have to have "Merry Christmas" on it?  Don't some of your cards say "Season's Greetings" and "Happy Holidays?  What's the difference? We were just trying to do something for the community!" (Not all of these statements came from the city. In fact, the lady who made the purchase struck me as a very nice, sincere, Christian lady.)

And then there is the "have respect for other people and their religious beliefs" argument.                  

No, all of my Christmas cards do not have to say "Merry Christmas". That's because I know they are all saying "Merry Christmas" anyway.  As for the community, leaving Christmas out of Christmas leaves out a huge section of our community.

So, what's the difference?  Why does it even matter?

The difference is that, as far as I know, people who send Christmas cards to our house are not trying to eliminate Jesus from the celebration of His own birth.  And Christmas is called Christmas because it is the day we have chosen to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the arrival of Christ on Earth. Those banners, like so many other things in today's society, were chosen with something else in mind.

To be fair, I doubt that anyone in this city's administration at the present time would actively and purposefully work to remove Christ from Christmas.  Likewise, certainly two of the businesses involved and probably all four of them would not do such a thing.  But, still, that is the effect of this display.  If a decision was made to purposefully leave out, not that accidentally left out, an acknowledgement that we are celebrating Christmas, how else are we to view it?  The city decided not to say "Merry Christmas" to and for the huge segment of her population that celebrates the birth of our Lord, our Savior, our Redeemer, our Deliverer, the Way, the Truth, the Life, THE Son of God

It would have been a way for the city to honor Him.  If you think that is not important to God, go back and read the Old Testament. And, before anybody starts hollerin' "separation of church and state", you can also see in the Bible how God feels about those "states" that choose to separate themselves from Him.  "It's the law," some may say.  "It's everywhere! How are we going to change it?"

Well, 1,God's law is higher than man's law.  "Yes, all kings shall fall down before Him; All nations shall serve Him."  Psalm 72:11 And, 2, if we don't change it where we live, how are we going to change it anywhere else? "But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15  Part 2 of 2, it is God who brings about the change.  He fights and wins His own battles. "Thus says the LORD to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s." . . . "You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the LORD is with you.” 2 Chronicles 20:15b, 17

So, here is what we as believers can and should do, also from 2 Chronicles:
  ". . . if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."

This IS a big deal. It is a symptom of an already huge and growing problem in our country and throughout the world.  Just like that tv special back in 1978 where "Christmas Day" had been replaced by "Commerce Day", mark my words; there will soon be an effort to replace "Christmas Day" with something else.  Our cities and many of our merchants will gladly join in.  They will be relieved that the "Christmas problem" has been taken care of.  It may be presented as something designed to include and respect everyone, all belief systems. That is what it will look like.  But, it will be a continuation of Satan's centuries old effort to erase the name of Jesus from before the eyes and mind of man.  Satan is clever. He will use who he can where he can in whatever way he can, and those used may be none the wiser.

Just call some folks. Wherever you are, whatever city you live in or shop in, pick up the phone and call your local merchants who are, maybe unwittingly, participating in these things.  Call your city administrators and officials and let them know how you feel.  If they don't respond to your words they will respond to your money and your votes, or lack thereof.  They may even be glad to hear from you.  It helps to know what people are thinking.            

We know that the day is coming when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!  Let's not be found lacking in our prayers and our words and our actions that would seek to exalt His name above all others, now and always . . . not just at Christmastime, but always.

"May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! May the LORD fulfill all your petitions!"  Psalm 20:5

Merry Christmas!

A Great song and A REALLY GREAT video!