In spite of theft, Jesus is still here

Published in the Courier Mail 3 Dec 04

IN A RATHER ironic move, someone stole the baby Jesus from a nativity scene in a shopping centre recently. Just what you want if you’re a thief — a visual reminder of God.

Thankfully, the nativity scene has been restored (and is now safely enclosed in glass). However, it seems some are still intent on removing Jesus from public life.

Some government departments are sending out greeting cards for “holiday greetings” or “summer greetings” rather than Christmas greetings. Preschools are being warned to avoid any carols that mention Jesus. Just last week, a chicken franchise in Sydney chastised one of its shops for displaying a nativity scene. They were instructed to remove it for fear of offending non-Christians.

Therein lies the dilemma. How does one celebrate Christmas in a pluralistic society?
For many Aussies, Christmas is more about food and family than having a spiritual experience.

However, few of us question whether there is a place for Christmas in Australia in 2004.

We have a dilemma indeed. We pride ourselves on our tolerance for all cultures and faiths yet we don’t want to lose our national identity in the rush to accommodate varying viewpoints.

So where to from here?

If the politically correct police are right, and large numbers of people are offended by the display of the nativity scene, have they thought through the logical ramifications of this? To be consistent, they should also be offended by any reference to the year AD2004. AD stands for Anno Domini — in the year of our Lord. I’m guessing lots of people use that calendar system who do not consider Jesus Christ to be their Lord. Yet AD2004 it remains. Why? Because it is a part of who we are.

Our nation was founded on Christian principles, including our principle of time and history. Our very calendar is dated according to how long it has been since Jesus was born on Earth.

Which brings me back to Christmas. Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Being offended by that does not change the truth of it.

WE CAN try to pretend that Christmas doesn’t exist, or is entirely secular, but that would only be an exercise in self-deception rather than social progression.

Does this mean that celebrating Christmas makes you a Christian? No. Does it mean the state will start to force everyone to go to church if they hang up holly? No. What it does mean is that we respect the right for our nation’s founding traditions and principles to continue.

Christmas, or “Christ’s mass” is about Jesus. What we do with the time off from work that this religious holiday affords us is completely up to us. But what is not up to us is to rewrite history. This celebration, even if the experts cannot agree on an exact date, is to commemorate what arguably may be one of the most significant events that has ever occurred.

In a country founded on Christian principles, where a large majority of us give social, if not individual, affirmation to the Christian faith, we should not be afraid to celebrate Christmas or, at the very least, to acknowledge it.

Those who don’t want to celebrate Christmas don’t have to. They don’t have to buy presents; they don’t have to decorate their houses and they can even go to work on December 25 if they wish.

Christmas will still exist though, and so should the right to acknowledge it publicly in Australia. After all, it really is “the most wonderful time of the year”.