GUEST VIEW: Encourage businesses to keep Christ in Christmas

By Bishop Michael Pfeifer, OMI

Christmas as the very word implies is all about Christ – or should be – the word itself refers to the first great Christ – mass. If it weren’t for the birth of Christ, there would be no Christmas. Sadly, in recent years there is a secular movement among many business and commercial groups that want our dollars but not our belief to remove Christ from Christmas by doing away with the word itself, religious displays, and a joyful wish of “Merry Christmas” and instead use “Happy Holidays.” In many places, “friendship trees” have replaced Christmas trees.

It’s time for Christians to standup and demand that our stores and places of businesses use the proper words to describe what the season is all about. As the old adage says, celebrate the true “Reason for the Season.” Marking the greatest day in history when the very son of God became man, Jesus, the “Reason for the Season” did not come condemning people just sin, evil and corruption. He helped the poor without one government program, he healed the sick without a government healthcare system, he fed the hungry without food stamps and wherever he went, he inspired large crowds to have faith, hope, encouragement, and a spirit of sharing.

Christmas then is a time to recover the true values of what makes Christmas. They are universal. They uphold the human dignity and the right of every human being irrespective of religion, race, or status. Jesus of Nazareth whose birth we celebrate was a wise man of great principals and he brought a message of hope, peace, love, justice, and human dignity into a suffering world. Much of what is happening today in America is due to the apathy of people of faith when they are confronted. For years wholesalers and retailers have amassed billions of dollars at Christmas and Hanukkah Season. It does not take a new divine revelation that states these are religious holidays. If we spend our money at stores and there are no signs of what the season represents, then we Christians need to demand that Christ be put back into Christmas-using the word Christmas-and that we also recognize Hanukkah as this is part of the religious season.

The attitude and approach that we need to take as regards to Christmas and Hanukkah was given by Howard Stern a prominent radio personality. Listen to his wise words, “I am a Jew and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. It does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up bejeweled trees, Christmas trees and I don’t feel threatened. That’s what they are: Christmas trees. It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say Merry Christmas to me. I don’t think they’re slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. It shows that we are brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of the year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene at key intersections. If people want a creche, it’s just fine with me, as is Menorah a few yards away.”

The attacks on Christmas are disguised as political correctness or a misunderstanding of the first amendment to the constitution. Separation of church and state does not mean separation of church from state. The state cannot impose church on the people, but the people can display and say as much church in the public square as they desire.

The Christmas festivities are a positive reinforcement of Christian faith in the lasting values and principles which Christ brought into the world that are as valid today as they were on the first day, he spoke them. We are called to lift the poor from misery and poverty, to bring social equality and respect for each one and to live in peace and end war.

Flowing from its divine origin, Christmas is meant to be a joyful time filled with celebrations, joining in the gladness of the singing and music of the angels of that first Christmas, the sharing of love and gifts and beautiful displays of lights and trees with Christ in the center.