From Hollow Days to Holy Days

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by Sharon Robertson, Lt. Colonel – 

by Lt. Colonel Sharon Robertson It happened last year. It wasn’t exactly eavesdropping—I was sitting on one of those conveniently placed benches in the shopping mall, resting my abused feet and listening to The Salvation Army band playing carols, when I happened to overhear the shopper’s comment to her companion.

“It’s a shame, the way they’re always trying to turn Christmas into a religious holiday!”

I turned to look. There were a lot of people standing around; I couldn’t tell who had made the comment—nor did I know why it seemed so important that I identify the speaker. I guess it was just that it seemed such a surprising thing to hear. After all, if you take the Christ out of Christmas, there’s not much left!

And then, this year. My niece was telling me about a comment made by the leader of her weight-loss group. “There is nothing religious about Thanksgiving. It is all about FOOD!” So who are we supposed to give thanks to? The cook? Or the turkey who gave his all for the joy of starring on the Thanksgiving menu?


I love the holiday season. I love the way people seem to suddenly be reminded that they are citizens in a needy world—and that they have the power to make it better for someone—some real person in need— this Christmas. I love hearing a small child say, “Mama, why is that lady ringing that bell? What’s in that big red thing?” and hearing her mother answer, “She’s collecting money to help buy toys and food for children who won’t have anything under the tree this Christmas.”

And a small voice saying, “I want to help. Can I put some money in the kettle?’

For many in our so-called Christian nation, the holidays have a hollow sound. It is a time of loneliness and depression instead of peace and joy. The inequities of poverty in the midst of plenty suddenly seem magnified, and frivolity becomes a fragile veil covering feelings of guilt and despair. Even devoted followers of the Christ sometimes find themselves so caught up in the business (I was going to write “busy-ness, but sometimes “business” fits better) of the season that the holiness of the season takes a back seat (or gets pushed to the back of the closet to make room for Johnny’s remote control car and track set, little Sally’s pop-up tent castle and Dad’s Complete Golf Club Organizer). In a season when we should be celebrating the advent of the Bringer of Eternal Life, thoughts of self destruction become all too real, and men and women are driven by the pain of daily existence to try to hide in bottles of pills and alcohol. On second thought, what’s to celebrate?

You know what? Maybe they are right, those who decry bringing religion into the holiday season!

It’s not religion, but the Compassion of Christ that makes the heart experience pain as we see the pain of others. It is not religion, but the Christian hope that makes us believe we can bring a little happiness to others at Christmas. And it’s not religion, but ADORATION that sends the joyous carols heavenward and fills our hearts with a flood of Thanks-giving that goes far beyond gratitude for a turkey dinner and the family home for Christmas.

Happiness, joy, peace, love, the ringing of bells, the sound of music, the responsive heart, the compassionate action, the encouraging word, the welcoming smile, these are the tools of worship that we lay before the Christ Child as we celebrate his birth. It is our acknowledgement of his holiness, his purity, his love, his peace that makes the celebration of Christ’s advent a Holy Day instead of just another holiday. It is looking for—and finding—evidences of him in this tired, sometimes frightening world, that makes Christmas so very special, and makes us shout a musical “Joy to the world!” That’s not religion—that’s JESUS!

The Light has come!

The Light has come!

by Linda Bond, Commissioner –  It’s a “given” that

A sliver of heaven

A sliver of heaven

by Amanda Reardon, Captain –  It happens this time every year

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