Merry Christmas Everyone!

By Pastor Gary Cortese, Chaplain – Byron Fire District

Once upon a time in America…we used to be able to wish someone “Merry Christmas” and not be offensive. It used to be that the words “political” and “correctness” were never used together. I remember when the Nativity could be displayed for Christmas without fear of a lawsuit (back when a Christmas tree was a Christmas tree – not a “Holiday tree”).

As a gentleman you could hold a door for a woman or help with her coat and not be accused of sexual harassment. Once upon a time we could speak our minds in conversation and know that the freedom of speech meant just that – the freedom to speak.

Once upon a time “One Nation Under God” and “In God We Trust” were honored and honorable and I could invoke God’s help by using the Name of - I’m going to say the dreaded “J” word here - “Jesus” (did I just say that Name in an official Fire Department mailing?) without it being a violation of the separation between church and state.

Like the title of a popular song asks, “Is this the end of the innocence?” Or is this progressive thinking? Have we become too smart for our own good? Or are we finally acting like the sophisticated nation that we are?

Someone once said that the only way for evil men to prevail is for righteous men to do nothing. Wow! That’s simple, yet very profound. I’ve modified that just a bit to say that the only way for darkness to prevail is for the light to not shine. So here’s a little light for you to consider this Christmas season.

First, any honest study of the founding of this great nation will reveal a common thread: the faith of our forefathers. They weren’t perfect; nobody is. But they recognized God’s hand in shaping this nation – a nation that provides hope and freedom to all. And it is God’s Name that is mentioned over and over again in their words and documents (a little different than today’s trend). And at the center of their Christian faith is…umm, let’s see, what’s That Name again? Oh yeah, Jesus.

Next, Christmas is the annual celebration of Christ’s birth - an actual person, not a religious preference. Like it or not, that’s what it is. You can’t mention the light of liberty in our nation without mentioning the light of Christianity, can you? An attack on Christmas is an attack on Christianity and, well, an attack on liberty itself.

You see, when I wish someone a Merry Christmas, I’m not violating his or her civil rights. I am wishing them all that is good, just, true and hopeful in this cold, dark and evil world, because that’s what Jesus represents. That’s what America represents.

Finally, Christmas is the time of year when human hearts seem most tender and charitable. Folks in need don’t care what their benefactors believe, or what color skin they have. If Christmas means that we become more mindful of others, then why in this crazy, mixed-up world would we want to change that?

Let me say one more time that the only way for darkness to prevail is for the light to not shine. Merry Christmas and God Bless us all, everyone!

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