It is the week before Christmas and all throughout, there are people preparing for family and a full house. There are dinners a’ stirring and shopping to do. Frowns on many faces and smiles on some too. Children are excited as the jingle of bells are heard, waiting for fake Santa who stand on the curb.
What? Back up! This is not the meaning of Christmas. Who stole the story?
The year was 1990, and an Ohio School Board banned the use of nativity scenes and all Christmas decorations stating that they were religious symbols, and agreed that these decorations were in their opinion a violation of church and state. The parents and community banned together and fought the school board for stealing Christmas from their children.
The Courts contended that Christmas was neither religious or Christian; therefore, the Nativity Scene could remain. However, Bible Reading and Prayer were Christian, and would be banned. Interesting, Christ-mas and Christ-ians (ins) are to be separated?
The Ban on Christmas is nothing new.
Christmas has its roots in Catholicism. However, it was 300 years after Christ before the Roman Church made it official. To escape religious persecution, many of the Puritans refused to celebrate Christmas due to its association with their persecutors. Those who refused to have fun, forced law against those who wanted to party. In 1659 the celebration was officially banned in what is now the city of Boston.
In the General Court Records, “it is therefore ordered by this court and the authority thereof that whosoever shall be found any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forbearing of labor, feasting, or any other way, upon such account as aforesaid, every such person so offending shall pay for every such offence five shilling as a fine to the county.”
A shilling would have been about 5 cents. Today it is worth $50.00. Therefore, if you were found guilty of “Christ-massing” you would pay 25 cents.
It was 1644, and on the Holy Day some New Englanders were drinking, playing games, dancing and having fun. How dare they? In 1647 The English Parliament passed a law that made Christmas illegal. They concluded that all that happiness was sinful. How dare they dance, laugh and have fun on such a solemn occasion?
In case you are wondering, the New Boston Post reported that the ban on Christmas lifted in 1681; however, the spirit of scrooge remained in that region for a century. Yeah, Boston! Good for you!
The First Century Church celebrated Jesus’s Resurrection. They were no longer looking for His birth, they had experienced His death and resurrection. His birth was celebrated by the Host of Heaven, the Shepherds, the Men from the East bearing gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. His birth was celebrated by Anna the Prophetess who was a widow of 80 years who waited in the temple for the news of His birth, and Simeon who refused to die before his eyes could behold the Messiah, and of course like any woman would, Mary celebrated the birth of the child Jesus.
His coming was foretold by the prophets; planned by God and manifested through Mary. Jesus was a common name for Jewish boys, but there was nothing common about this child. His birth, his life and his legacy are God breathed.
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prevents Congress from making any law respecting an establishment of religion, prohibiting the free exercise of religion, or abridging the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the right to peaceably assemble, or to petition for a governmental redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that constitutes the Bill of ‘Rights.
Amendment I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
How many times have we seen the opposite? What stands out more than anything is “prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” We should, and do have a legal and spiritual right to exercise the freedom to celebrate Christmas in anyway that does not infringe upon the rights of others.
In the case of Reynolds vs United States in 1878 Congress was deprived of all legislative power over mere [religious] opinion, but was left free to reach [only those religious] actions which were in violation of social duties or subversive of good order.
Quoting from Jefferson letter on Virginia Status for Religious Freedom the courts further stated, “it is declared ‘that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government for its officers to interfere [only] when [religious] principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order.”
Noticed the phrase, “Acts against peace and good will”. Most of us practice peace and good will toward men at least during the Holiday Season. However, we do not have the right to infringe upon the rights of others at Christmas or any other time.
There is no argument we can do a better job at being representatives of Christ in the earth. Celebrating Christmas is not the only way to celebrate Christ. We can celebrate the life of Christ in our way of thinking and being. We celebrate His life when we love as He loves, give as He gives. We celebrate His life through giving and forgiving.
Who Stole My Christ-mas, I ask? The answer is, No one. You cannot steal what you cannot see. God is Spirit and those that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.