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Friday, December 02, 2005

Happy Chrismahanukwanzakah!!

Maybe you've noticed that there's a bit of a controversy brewing these days about whether people should say, "Merry Christmas." My take on it is this: If someone says to me, "Happy holidays," I will respond, "What are you talking about? There is nothing called "holidays." What exactly do you mean?" I intend to do so with a completely straight face until they give me a response. I don't care if it makes the elderly greeter at WalMart feel uncomfortable.

You see, if I were an employee at a store like that, no one would be able to tell me that I am not permitted to wish someone a Merry Christmas. This is something I'd be willing to lose a job over. Of course, that is very easy for me to say since, in my profession, that is not likely to happen anytime soon.

But listen. Recently, I was asked to do the swearing in of newly elected borough officials and offer a benediction. I told the fellow that I'd be very happy to participate in this civic event and say a prayer, but only so long as there would be no restrictions on the wording of my prayer. I will pray in the name of Jesus Christ and will mention the Holy Trinity and all that stuff. He said, "Go for it." And I will.

It's a good thing that I don't live in that secularist Shangri-la of the state of Indiana, because there a federal judge has decreed that no Christian ministers who pray at state legislative meetings may mention the name of Jesus. See here. Some people are getting their shorts in a knot over that but it's not unusual. . . if you live in Saudi Arabia.

Here is what I tell people when they ask me to pray in public. "I am a Christian and the minister of a Lutheran church. I would be happy to pray (in most circumstances), but I will pray a Christian prayer. If that makes you uncomfortable, then please ask someone else. I will not be offended. However, if you still want me to pray, you know what I will say." It's that simple. I'm not trying to be offensive, but neither will I cloud my identity as a Christian so the Rastafarians in the audience won't jump and holler.

Back to the Merry Christmas controversy. In some ways, I see this as a tempest in a teacup. I don't really care if people are allowed to say Merry Christmas. In that regard, I'd just do what I want and let the rest fly a kite.

And by the way, why do non-Christians want to celebrate Christmas in the first place, as so many do. That offends me. This is a celebration of the birth of Jesus, not a gift-fest with Santa and booze soaked office parties. I truly and very sincerely believe that the U.S. government should repeal December 25th as a federal holiday. Let's see what happens then.

By the way, here is a hilarious ad from Virgin mobile phones spoofing the blending of religions this time of year to appease everyone. It's funny, though I liked last year's version better. I can't find it anywhere. If you have a link to the 2004 version of this ad, please send it to me.

And MERRY ADVENT (Christmas doesn't even start for another 23 days).

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cwv warrior said...

Good work! We need a ton more pastors with your convictions...even a couple? We were just with friends from our old church last night, they are churchless now too. They have no idea where to go and they're tired of being burned.
Also, thank you for pointing out when Christmas starts. Happens to be a pet peeve of mine. THE DAY after Dec. 25th, there will be an abrupt halt. That's just when I'm getting started!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm Jewish and thank god that there are still people out there like you, I'm a firm beliver in letting you guys have your own holiday, say Merry Christmas all you want, say it to me, say it to anyone. I'll even say it to someone who celebrates Christmas. When will this crazy fad of "political correctness gone wild" stop imposing on the first amendment. Wow, who'd of thought that saying Merry Christmas would someday be uncooth. Merry Christmas to you Pastor, and a Happy Hanukkah to me.

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

Thank you for your very thoughtful comments. I agree with what you say 100%. I hope you do have a Happy Hanukkah!!

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