The Offense of the Nativity, Iraqi Christians Cancel Christmas, Killer Candy Canes and Osteen Blows It

"God has landed on this enemy-occupied world in human form…” CS Lewis




TWW will be taking a break until next Tuesday to celebrate, worship, wrap, bake, eat and visit. Merry Christmas y’all. Thank you for blessing our blog with your presence.


1. Let’s start with an amusing example of Christmas political correctness gone amuck.


I heard the following story on the radio today while trying to get into the Honey Baked Ham parking lot to buy my Christmas ham.


There is a group of kids at Battlefield High School known as the “Christmas Sweater Club” because they wear wild Christmas sweaters during December. They often spontaneously sing Christmas carols and look for ways to celebrate the season.


One day, before school started, they decided to bring  tiny 2-inch candy canes (the ones in the plastic wrappers that always break) and throw them to the students who were arriving at school. But, the “grownups” got involved. Some of the kids got in trouble and were given detention and forced to do community service for their display of merriness. Why, you may ask? You can read about it at this link.


“They said we were maliciously wounding other kids. But nobody intentionally tried to do that, or did,” said Zakk Rhine, a junior at Battlefield.

Skylar Torbett, also a junior, said administrators told him, “The candy canes could be used as weapons by sucking on them and making them have sharp points.” He said neither he nor any of their friend did that.

Some kids dropped their candy canes on the floor. But Cameron Gleason said he spent an hour cleaning up the dropped candy prior to being called in to be punished. 

Mother Kathleen Flannery said a administrator called her and explained that, “not everyone wants Christmas cheer. That suicide rates are up over Christmas, and that they should keep their cheer to themselves, perhaps.”


Keep their cheer to themselves? Sounds like Scrooge to me. Who ever heard of killer candy canes? What were the teens going to do? Stab Santa?  Christmas is the time of year that we celebrate the Savior who brought light and life to a dark and weary world. Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a season to everything. And this is the season to celebrate God’s sacred invasion onto this enemy occupied world. We should and do rejoice in the presence of the Savior. As it says in Luke 19:38-40 (NIV)


“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest! Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”



2. But, in the midst of rejoicing, we must remember those who are being persecuted for recognizing this Immortal One who took on mortal life.

As Christians in America fuss about stores who do not say a rote and meaningless Merry Christmas, our Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq are facing real persecution. In a report by Associated Press’ Yahya Barzanji and Sameer N. Yacoub, on Wed Dec 22, 2010 and reprinted on Yahoo news, we learn the following sad news.


“KIRKUK, Iraq.

Christians across Iraq have been living in fear since the assault on Our Lady of Salvation Church as its Catholic congregation was celebrating Sunday Mass. Sixty-eight people were killed. Days later Islamic insurgents bombed Christian homes and neighborhoods across the capital.

On Tuesday, al-Qaida insurgents threatened more attacks on Iraq's beleaguered Christians, many of whom have fled their homes or the country since the church attack. A council representing Christian denominations across Iraq advised its followers to cancel public celebrations of Christmas out of concern for their lives and as a show of mourning for the victims.

"Nobody can ignore the threats of al-Qaida against Iraqi Christians," said Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sako in Kirkuk. "We cannot find a single source of joy that makes us celebrate. The situation of the Christians is bleak."

Church officials in Baghdad, as well as in the northern cities of Kirkuk and Mosul and the southern city of Basra, said they will not put up Christmas decorations or celebrate midnight Mass. They urged worshippers not to decorate their homes. Even an appearance by Santa Claus was called off.”

This writer was once approached by a woman at her former church who claimed that Christians in the United States were experiencing serious persecution. I asked her how many Christians she personally knew who have been martyred for Christ in the past 10 years in the US. Obviously, this question was rhetorical.

As we contemplate the secularization of the American culture , we need to be cognizant of the fact that our battles in no way approach the persecution of the faithful in other parts of the world. Tonight, as you gather in your warm homes and discuss which Christmas eve service you should attend, please take a moment to pray for our Iraqi brothers and sisters and thank God that all we have to debate in America is "Merry Christmas" versus "Happy Holidays". Please join Maher Murqous in praying for his family.


“Maher Murqous, a Christian from Mosul who fled to neighboring Syria after being threatened by militants, said his relatives are still at risk in Iraq, and since they cannot celebrate, neither will he.
"We will pray for the sake of Iraq. That's all we can do," he said from his home in Damascus.”


In the coming year, TWW hopes to occasionally highlight what is happening to Christians throughout the world and ask our readers to join with us to pray for them.


3. We return to the United States to hear one of our most well-known “theologians.”


Listen to Joel Osteen who,along with his wife, brings a very short “Christmas” greeting to America. However, there is something missing in his message. Amidst the bright smiles, the robotic nodding of heads and the incessant blinking of Osteen’s eyes, see if you can spot it. By the way, someone added comments at the end of this video to help you out.


Joel Osteen's Reason for the Season




It is a little sad when you have to remind “America’s Pastor” that JESUS is the reason for the season. We are not the gift; Jesus is. In fact, since Joel's not so big on the Bible, let's help him out with a quote from Dr Seuss in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” 


"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more? “


4. It is strange to contemplate the offense of the Nativity scene.

Christians often talk about the offense of the Cross. In reality, it is Jesus who offends many. Jesus had a way of showing up without an official invitation. He kept inserting Himself into day-to-day life, a sort of cosmic busybody. One minute, people were buying sacrifices in the Temple; in the next, Jesus was flinging over the tables, scattering money and animals everywhere.

The same thing happened when He was born. Shepherds were going about their business tending sheep, thinking about bedding down for the night and their world suddenly turned upside down. They were the only witnesses to the greatest angelic chorus every heard on earth. Why them? Wasn’t it wasted on these nobodies who barely eked out an existence hanging around sheep? But that’s Jesus for you; showing up, in the middle of the night, in a cave stable that was a makeshift camping site.

Now, what is it about this stable which housed tired, teenaged parents, a poor newborn baby along with a bunch of bewildered shepherds and animals that seems to get everyone up in arms? Strangely, 2,000 years later, here in the United States, halfway around the world from that stable, there is a ruckus whenever a depiction of this night appears. This scene is an offense to many. Why? Perhaps this Holy Baby, Jesus, makes folks feel a bit uncomfortable with themselves. This scene strikes an emotional chord, a longing, in people from all cultures and time periods. This child brings light to darkness, both in us and the world. The paradoxes are endless. The Immortal becomes mortal; the Omnipotent becomes a baby; the Strong becomes weak; The Creator becomes the created; God becomes man. He exchanged a throne for a manger; heaven for a cave; light for darkness and took on the form of a helpless baby and allowed a teenager to carry and care for Him. 


I think CS Lewis nailed it when he said, "A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg–or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.”


There is a group which is promoting the lawful presentation of  live nativity scenes on public property around the United States. I first saw them on Fox News which highlighted their appearance on the streets of New York in front of Fox News. This same organization also legally staged a live nativity on the steps of the Supreme Court in 2009. Please keep in mind, they legally applied for and received a permit to do this. Here is a description of their goals.


“Faith and Action has joined with the Christian Defense Coalition in the Nativity Project, an effort to encourage all Americans to stage living Christmas displays or stationary ones. Pick a highly trafficked location with good public visibility, determine which kind of display you want to use, then go to your government offices and ask what you must do to secure permission. The more brief the display, the easier it generally is to accomplish. As you’re making your plans, be sure you’re working with PUBLIC property..

If you care about keeping CHRIST in CHRISTmas, and heralding the Good News while reinforcing the freedoms that make our nation unique, please consider joining us in the Nativity Project.”

As I watched the broadcast, I was intrigued. On major city streets, at the Supreme Court and in towns and hamlets around the world, Jesus still surprises and invades the lives of the unsuspecting.


We leave you with two of the aforementioned displays. May we never be prevented from such freedoms in our country.


“I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all. And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone. Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the world seemingly most indifferent. For this is still the time God chooses.” – Taylor Caldwell


Live Nativity Scene on the Streets of New York Courtesy of Fox News



Live Nativity Scene at the Supreme Court in 2009




The Offense of the Nativity, Iraqi Christians Cancel Christmas, Killer Candy Canes and Osteen Blows It — 5 Comments

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    What were the teens going to do? Stab Santa?

    These characters tried to assassinate Santa. (They aren’t very good shots. Santa was still grinning in the end.) They actually made some good points beginning around the 4-minute mark and before they began to veer off course again. Too bad their message was drowned out by their ridiculous actions.

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    Redneck theologians strike again.

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    When I was a kid growing up in the Southeast corner of Wisconsin, we had both a Holy Creche scene and a beautifully lit up Menorah in a city park. Both Jews and Christians (Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, etc) wished each other a Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukkah. Nobody got offended, and we thought of nice things to say about and to each other. But the world has moved on (as Stephen King would write) and for the most part, not for the better.

    Do I long and pine for a past that never was? No, but I think that folks exercised more civility and restraint back then, because kids were taught that life was not about them and that they had boundaries which were best not crossed. The irony is not lost for me anyway, in some ways we were a more tolerant society back then.

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    Sweet post muff. I like what you had to say.

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    How right you are! I grew up in an immigrant subculture in Salem, Massachusetts. I was Russian and had friends who were Polish, French, Italian, Greek, Armenian, etc. We were Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Jewish,etc. Actually, I didn’t know one evangelical or Baptist growing up. Yet, we all got along and went to each other’s festivals-the food and music were to good to pass up.

    Today we can’t even get along within evangelicalism because of secondary doctrines. Good gracious-some of our leaders would not let other leaders have communion because of their position of infant baptism. If we can’t get along, no wonder the rest of the world can’t/ And we are supposed to be the examples-yeah right.