Contrary to popular belief, I love Christmas. I love my Savior, and I love celebrating the Son of God's entry into this world as a man. I love telling people how he came to live a perfect life, to die a horrible death to atone for the sins of His people, and to rise again from the dead to reign eternally over His kingdom. I love that very early in church history, the church chose this dark and dreary time of year to celebrate the Light of the World.
So, last night the Debster and I took one of her best friends, Inge, to see The Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows' annual Christmas "Way of Lights" display in Belleville. Afterwards, we drove through a couple of subdivisions to see some decorated homes. Inge is about 80 years young, and quite healthy and spry, very limber and athletic, for her age. But she doesn't like to drive at night or in heavy traffic. She and Debster have been friends for over thirty years, and we both love her to pieces. You can't find a better, more warm-hearted and loving person than Inge.
What follows are a few semi-random thoughts about the whole thing.
I really wasn't too enthusiastic about going to Belleville. Not that I have anything against the town, for I don't. It's a pleasant enough place. No, one problem is that I truly believe that the Roman Catholic Church teaches heresy, such as idol worship, Mary-olotry, works-based salvation, promoting their traditions to the same level as God's Word, papal infallibility, and many other damnable things. Because of this, I am very uncomfortable with doing something that may seem to support this organization. But, the Debster really wanted to go, as did Inge, who, as it happens, is also a rather devout Catholic.
(I just want to interject here that the revulsion I have for what the Roman Catholic Church teaches does NOT extend to the members of that church. There are a lot of wonderful people in that church, including many of my friends and relatives. I love them all, and pray that the Lord will release them from their spiritual bondage and take them into His own family.)
Anyway, the other problem I have with this particular drive-through display is strictly logistical in nature. The driving lane is not clearly marked, with several turn-offs into other parts of the complex that are not, strictly speaking, part of the tour. Although they have people stationed along the way with lighted wands to direct traffic, they are for the most part teenagers that just wave the wand in random manner. The road itself does not have curbs or reflective paint on the edge, so if you drive through with your lights off as requested, it is quite easy to veer off the road onto the grass. Passengers in the car are treated to a breathtakingly beautiful display of lights and displays narrating the birth of our Savior. The driver of the car, which would be ME of course, is, in the meanwhile, developing quite a headache trying to stay on the proper path, not drive off the edge, and not hitting people wandering around on foot, in the dark, often wearing dark clothing and hence virtually invisible. Also trying to avoid rear-ending the car in front which apparently doesn't have tail-lights.
To make matters worse, there were a couple of displays you could go through on foot, and we didn't spot them the first time through until we were past the turn-offs for them. So I had to go back through a SECOND time so that the Debster and Inge could get out and go through the petting zoo, and go into the building that housed a display of Christmas trees from around the world. As we were leaving, the Debster asked me to go back a THIRD time because we forgot to go see the display of decorations made from Lego blocks. At that point, I had to put my foot down. No way I was putting myself through that again!
Once we had finally put Belleville in the rear-view mirror, it was time to wander through a couple of subdivisions. There were a fair number of homes that had beautiful displays of lights. Personally, I am partial to strings of pure white lights outlining a house and trees and such. But there were a number of beautiful colorful displays as well. One thing I was sad to see was that Nativity scenes were very rare; I think we saw only one or two. All the rest were straight secular displays. Often pretty, yes, but also quite empty of any true meaning.
Well, enough rambling on about this. I'm going to close with a quote from a public post that someone put up on Facebook recently:
To All My Liberal Friends:
Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.
I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2016, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other countries nor the only " America " in the Western Hemisphere . Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishes.
To My Conservative Friends:
Merry Christmas, and a Happy New YearThanks for reading!
God bless you all!
Ron and the Debster