What Do Lighthouses Have to Do With Christmas?

Monday, December 26, 2011

In John 8:12, Jesus says, "I am the light of the world." So when we commemorate Jesus' birth, we celebrate the Light.

The following poem is my take on the subject.

               The Lighthouse
                           by Kathryn Page Camp

A light has come to save the world,
     A lowly baby born,
It shines its beam on rocky shoals
     From evening until morn.

When storms of life beat on my boat
     And winds begin to blow,
The beacon shines across the waves
     With its resplendent glow.

Mist and haze may hide the reefs,
     Clouding up my sight,
But though they blind my eyes at times,
     They cannot veil the light.

As lighthouse keeper I must go
     And rescue those in danger,
For one in peril on the sea
     Can never be a stranger.

The harbor light beams steady on
     Wherever I may roam,
A welcome blaze when life is done
     To guide me safely home.

Christ is the X in Xmas

Monday, December 19, 2011

Some people worry that using "Xmas" instead of "Christmas" will secularize the festival.

I'm not one of them.

I admit it. I use Xmas at times, either because of space constraints or because I'm lazy. But that doesn't mean I'm downplaying Christ's role in Christmas.

On the contrary, I understand that Christ is the X in Xmas.

The picture at the top of this post shows the Greek spelling for "Christ." It begins with the Greek letter Chi, which looks like our X. And just as we sometimes use initials to refer to people, Christians through the ages have used the Chi as an abbreviation for "Christ."

So if I replace the name "Christ" with an X, you can chastise me for being lazy, but you can't complain that I'm secularizing Christmas.

Have a Christ-filled Xmas.

Merry Christmas v. Happy Holidays

Monday, December 12, 2011

Merry Christmas is suing Happy Holidays for divorce and asking for custody of Christmas. Why? Because Merry Christmas believes that Happy Holidays is turning Christmas into a non-practicing Christian or even an atheist.

But if the court appointed me as guardian ad litem, I'd argue for joint custody. (A guardian ad litem advocates for the child's best interests rather than for the interests of either parent.)

I love the freedom I have as an American, but freedom works both ways. If I am free to say "Merry Christmas," my countrymen are free to say "Happy Holidays" or "Happy Hanukkah" or whatever they choose.

And retailers and restaurateurs should be given that same freedom. Yes, sometimes they will decide to do whatever they think pleases their customers even if it isn't their personal preference, but that's their choice.

What are we afraid of, anyway? It isn't as if store decorations and holiday salutations can take Christ out of Christmas. Either God came to earth in human form or he didn't. We can spin the facts, but we can't change them.

My God is in control even if I don't say "Merry Christmas."

So have a merry Christmas or a happy holiday season or both.

Lest We Forget

Monday, December 5, 2011

Wednesday is the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. It was and still is a tragic occurrence, even for those of us who were not born yet.

Every year we remember the men who died at Pearl Harbor, and we should. But did you know that women and children experienced the terror, too?

This summer I purchased a copy of The Children of Battleship Row,* which is a memoir by Joan Zuber Earle. Her father was a major in the Marines, and in 1940 he was assigned to Oahu in the then territory of Hawaii. His family went with him, and they moved onto Ford Island and into a house just yards from Pearl Harbor.

A year later, nine-year-old Joan and her sister, Peggy, were living an idyllic existence. Then came December 7, 1941.

Joan and Peggy had been helping their mother prepare the pork roast that was to go into the oven before they left for church. The sisters were still in their pajamas when they were interrupted by smoke rising from the nearby ships and bullets raining from strange airplanes. Bullets they had to dodge as they ran for their assigned shelter.

But as they passed the Bachelor Officers' Quarters (the BOQ), the men beckoned them inside to get away from the falling bullets. I'll pick up Joan's narrative after they entered the kitchen.
"Get under something!" said a male voice. Peggy scuttled under the kitchen sink. Mother and I crawled under the large wooden kitchen table in the center of the room. Huddle, hide, we are safe for a minute, my brain recorded.

Whomp!!!!!  An explosion louder than any crack of thunder or volcanic eruption shook the building, immediately followed by a rain of fire. Even from under the table where I was kneeling, I could see clearly out the kitchen windows. The familiar greenery outside the building was obliterated. On three sides, flaming material now filled the sky. Peggy could see as well from where she was crouched. The BOQ's on fire, I thought. The BOQ's on fire! We're going to be trapped in here and burned up.

I'd never been a screamer, but now I became hysterical. I felt sure that the roof over our heads was already in flames. Stark terror swallowed me. I began yelling words I thought I would never say, "I hate Ford Island. I hate Ford Island. I want to go back to the mainland!"

Mother, kneeling next to me, held my shaking body in her arms. For some reason, she was not screaming, nor was my sister. But I have never fully recovered from what my mother said next: "Don't cry, Joan. Don't cry. Marines don't cry. Don't ruin the morale of the men."

I stopped. After that, I turned my screams inward, becoming mute in my terror.
Joan and her family survived Pearl Harbor. But it took an emotional toll that I can't even imagine.

December 7, 1941 affected the men who died. It affected their families and friends. It affected those who lived through it. And it affects each of us because, as my distant ancestor said, "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main."**

So let us never forget Pearl Harbor.

*Although I highly recommend The Children of Battleship Row, it appears to be out of print. And nobody can pry my copy out of my fingers to borrow it.

** From "Meditation XVII" by John Donne.