I drove past a Catholic Hospital on my way to work this morning, and I saw a lovingly crafted Nativity Scene.
I felt a bit more in the Christmas mood just seeing it
despite the "summer" temperature here in Louisiana
since you do not see them very often anymore.
After all this is the Age of Enlightenment, of Sophistication, of Religious Tolerance ...
Unless you are a Christian ...
then, keep your beliefs to yourself, thank you very much!
Kindly stay hidden
and do not bother us with your world-view ...
though you are a lout if you do not give us the freedom of expression to beat you over the head with our beliefs.
But that is fitting in an odd way actually ...
The first Christians in the Roman Empire were hunted and persecuted.
Say at an inn, you sat across from a traveler and wondered from his words if he were a fellow believer,
you took your finger and drew the top swirl of the fish image from the condensation of your drink ...
If he completed the bottom image of the crude fish with his own finger,
you knew you were in the company of a fellow believer.
The Greek word for fish is "ichthys."
As early as the first century, Christians made an acrostic from this word:
Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter, i.e. Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.
The fish has plenty of other theological overtones as well, for Christ fed the 5,000 with 2 fishes and 5 loaves.
So if we are now once again cordoned off because of our beliefs, we are in good company.
But we can still reach out quietly in Christian Love,
giving comfort and compassion during this season, silently living the world-view in which we believe.
Once again, I end with Alan Paton's wise words:
“There is only one way in which one can endure man's inhumanity to man and that is to try, in one's own life, to exemplify man's humanity to man.”
Now, for a bit of Christmas cheer: