Cromey Online

The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

PRESIDENT GRANT AND CHRISTMAS

Christmas Holiday

Christmas was first proclaimed a national holiday on June 27, 1870 when President Ulysses S. Grant signed a law making Christmas, Fourth of July and Thanksgiving holidays. Up to that time workers had no day off for those special commemorative days. The Christian churches celebrated Christmas as the day when Jesus was born in a stable at Bethlehem. Political leaders in those days were at least nominal Christians and made this religious day a holiday as it was an important day in church life.

Today Christmas day is a day off from work for many people. Banks, government offices, businesses and may stores close on this day. Practicing Christmas celebrate the birth of Jesus. Many people pay little attention to Jesus except to know the words of many of the traditional carols that permeate the airwaves and background music in stores.

Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan may acknowledge Christmas day but few will have a day off. Transit workers, police, firefighters and hospital employees will also be working.

Christians today are deeply divided over issues of child molestation, abortion, birth control, homosexuality, war, and peace. Catholic priests and protestant ministers sexually abuse parishioners. Business executives and politicians sexually abuse employees and colleagues. Not much new there.

Institutional churches suffer the same problems that most businesses do. Corruption, graft, sexual harassment, hypocrisy, inertia and grandiosity are part of what happens in all imperfect human organizations.

For those who take the birth of Jesus seriously, the essential values of his ministry are recalled. He lived a life of healing, forgiving, loving, seeking justice for the poor and confronting the powerful. That is what Christmas is for many whether Christian or not.

So thank you President Grant for a day off to think of many things.

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