The “Christmas Spirit”?

Firstly I just want to express a TRUE expression of my heart:  Blessed Christmas to you and your family!

Jesus is truly the hope and salvation of the world.  He comes for the salvation of everyone!  In him is truly the face and love of God.  I pray that we all might trust in him for all good things and love him more and more in our hearts, minds and actions.

Having done this, now I would like to share a letter I am composing to the Editor of our Scranton Times Newspaper.

Dear Editor:

Thank you for the important service that your newspaper provides our community.  I probably don’t appreciate fully how “delicate” your balancing act of being an editor is, but I am struck again by how “Jesus-less” your coverage of Christmas is.  I reviewed carefully the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day issues of the Scranton Times and found absolutely nothing at all concerning Jesus Christ (except a full page ad by Topps Business Machines) – not even a cursory mention of, say, how “Christians celebrate today what they believe is the birth of Jesus Christ.”  Instead, there is always a plethora of space given to Santa and the “Christmas spirit”, which boils down to acts of kindness and making sure that every child has a gift to unwrap.  Not that acts of kindness are unworthy of mention and reporting, but is that ALL that makes up the “Christmas spirit”?  

To further illustrate your media bias, you run a front page article on the Christmas message of Pope Benedict XVI and the title of it is “Pope Benedict XVI appeals for ‘solidarity'”.  If one were to actually read the message you would find that its beautiful main point is Jesus Christ – that He is the savior of the world!  But, of course your “article” never even mentions Jesus Christ!  In a predominantly Catholic area, could I suggest that you would do a greater service by actually printing the FULL (eight paragraph only) text of the Pope’s message instead of some cheap and politically correct slant on it.  

No one is asking for any kind of favoritism toward Christianity in your reporting – just simply a plain objective reporting of it, please!

At this point, I am passing this letter by my fellow circuit pastors to see if they have any further suggestions or comments, but I would welcome any input from you as well.

But I have another challenge for all of us Christians as well:  that we give a clear witness to Christ at Christmas.  I think that probably the newspapers don’t print a lot about Christ at Christmas because we don’t talk enough about it ourselves!  If we are perhaps asked by a reporter why we are serving a dinner for the poor at Christmas, are we going to say “because that is what the Christmas spirit is all about” (or some other such meaningless statement) or are we going to explicitly SAY that we do it because giving is a reflection of the gift of Jesus Christ at Christmas?

Jesus is the reason for the season!  And remember that the 12 days of Christmas just started!

Newsweek and Illinois Politics

Just a quick jot and a couple excellent links.  

I opened my copy of Newsweek this last week and my mouth was literally agape at the contents of the cover story on “What the Bible Says abut Gay Marriage”!  I cannot believe such an article of misinformation (much less “news”) could be published.  Almost every line is crooked.  I wouldn’t be ragging if there was a SHRED of scholarship in the article.  There is none!  It is pure propaganda!  I thought about going through it line by line for you all in rebuttal, but Dr. Robert Gagnon has done a much better job.

BTW:  My subscription to Newsweek is up and I will NOT be renewing – and I let the editor know it!

As for the Governor of Illinois, we all have our mouths agape together at what appears to have taken place.  It is these kinds of instances which lead me to be so cynical about what goes on in the highest political offices of this not-so-great-as-we-think nation.  Here is the BEST essay I have read on this, hitting the nail right on the head as to WHY people can be so boneheaded and corrupt.  It is written by one of the Christians I admire the most, one who has BEEN THERE BEFORE.  Read it here.

Election Followup and Miscellaneous

I am SURE you have all been waiting with baited breath as to my thoughts on the election!  I have purposely waited a bit to let everything settle down. No doubt it was a wild ride leading up to the election itself, but we can be thankful that it all ended peacefully and was well ordered around the country.  We can be thankful that we live in a country where there is a regular and ordered transition of power as one president WILLINGLY (and you would have to add sometimes:  thankfully) steps down and another steps up.   Here are a couple thoughts:

1) I am excited to see how well President Obama will be able to lead us.  He certainly has great intelligence and has shown himself very politically savvy.  I am sure that many good things will come of his presidency.

2) It is interesting that although Obama has claimed mantle of the Presidency with a percentage that exceeds the winning percentage of most recent presidents, it seems all to easy to forget that over 47% of the American people did NOT vote for him!

3) Those Christian (and other) Moral “conservatives” who were disappointed in Obama’s  victory did receive a bit of encouragement in the three state referendums to enshrine the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.  They all were passed, most importantly in California.  One of the very important things to realize about these referendums was that they simply reserved the “word” marriage for the legal relationship between man and woman.  A gay or lesbian couple has the VERY SAME legal rights as any heterosexual married couple in California.  They just aren’t “Married”! (In another blog post I will discuss this further.)

Anyway, although there are definitely “major issues” that I and the church have with the viewpoints of Barak Obama concerning abortion and other life issues such as stem cell research, etc., (I will be waiting for all you to come down with me to the March for Life in January!) I am thrilled that this country was able to elect an African American to the Presidency.  I am wary of this countries euphoria over his election and any sense that somehow Barak Obama is going to “save” our country.  We need sober and measured and difficult decisions in these difficult times.  But taken altogether, even though I am as always very cynical about anything political, I am looking forward to things being done a bit differently in Washington.   Whatever your political leanings, we need to PRAY for our country’s new leaders!    


ADVENT THEME THAT I WILL BE SHARING WITH YOU ALL:  “The Hopes and Fears of all the Years are Met in Thee Tonight”  


Back in the early 1890s, William Dean Howells published a funny little fable called “Christmas Every Day” in one of the most popular venues of the time, St. Nicholas Magazine for Boys and Girls. Once upon a time, the narrator explains as the story begins, “there was a little girl who liked Christmas so much that she wanted it to be Christmas every day in the year.” What’s more, she found a fairy to grant her wish, and she was delighted when Christmas came again on December 26, and December 27, and December 28. Of course, “after it had gone on about three or four months, the little girl, whenever she came into the room in the morning and saw those great ugly, lumpy stockings dangling at the fireplace, and the disgusting presents around everywhere, used to sit down and burst out crying. In six months she was perfectly exhausted, she couldn’t even cry anymore.” By October, “people didn’t carry presents around nicely anymore. They flung them over the fence or through the window, and, instead of taking great pains to write ‘For dear Papa,’ or ‘Mama’ or ‘Brother,’ or ‘Sister,’ they used to write, ‘Take it, you horrid old thing!’ and then go and bang it against the front door.” –  “The End of Advent” by Joseph Bottum  

FINALLY: Have you ever really thought about WHY you go to church (or don’t go?)

This morning I sort of reviewed and updated and reformatted a brochure I wrote a few years ago called “Why Should I attend Church?”  You can download and read the pdf file HERE.