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Christmas Should Be About Inclusion, Courtesy

A rabbi in Seattle sued the airport for having Christmas trees in front of the airport. His solution: construct an 8-foot menorah alongside.

Decried as political correctness by many Christians, it seemed a reasonable solution to me. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
 
We have all heard it said that this country was formed on Judeo-Christian values. We fight over the Ten Commandments, a Jewish document, in our courthouses. We will go to the ends of the earth with our military to defend <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Israel. So why was a displaying menorah at a gateway for international travel such an unreasonable request?
 
The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah actually precedes Christmas–or at least the event it commemorates does–a miracle that occurred in the Maccabean revolt a century and a half before the birth of Christ.
 
Is our holiday more valuable than theirs? It is to us, but should we have a monopoly? It seems to me that being a “friend of Israel” at this time of year should include grace and inclusion. How will there ever be peace on earth if we can’t agree on Christmas trees and menorahs?
 
Political correctness drives me crazy as well. People in a small suburb were asked to take down a Christmas wreath that was shaped like a peace symbol. The homeowners association was afraid that it might be too controversial. Someone promoting peace at Christmas? That is controversial? Whatever happened to free speech?
 
The problem is this: we don’t talk to one another.
 
For example, do you know what Jewish people do on Christmas day? I had a great conversation with a group of Jewish high school students one time. They told me that they go to eat Chinese food and watch a movie.
 
One of their Christian friends told them that is was sacrilegious. They asked my opinion. I asked why they did that. They told me that Chinese restaurants were the only ones open and the movies theaters were mostly empty.
 
One student told me that going to a Chinese restaurant in Rice Village on Christmas is like a family reunion. They invited me to come along. I just might do that.
 
Ever seen a house with solid blue lights at Christmas? Ever wonder why? That is a Jewish family. They do it for children who wish they could have as much fun as Christians.
 
Does God still love Jews? Does He still have a plan for their lives? Is a menorah–and the more important gracious gesture–political correctness or common courtesy?
 
It seems to me at Christmas time there is room for everyone at the table; especially Jews.
By the way, Jesus was Jewish, wasn’t he?
 
At the airport in Seattle the trees came down; and so did a chance to make a difference. What if churches in the area came to worship with their Jewish neighbors when the menorah was put up? How much good will would that provide? Would that soften a heart or two?
 
We wonder why Jews and Arabs can’t get along, and we can’t even allow a menorah to be put up at an airport?
 
Ed Hogan is pastor of Jersey Village Baptist Church in Houston.