Last night about 20 of us from church went Christmas caroling in the business district of our town. It was wonderful. I could have sung all night (to cop a sentiment from My Fair Lady). The best voices in the congregation showed up, many with that natural talent for spontaneous harmonizing that is as mysterious to me as Sanskrit. We sounded great and I hope the Lord thought so, too.
What I like about Christmas is that the airwaves are filled with powerful gospel words served up in melodies that still make people feel warm.
But I have to tell you that I was a little nervous before I got to the rendezvous spot. Choosing to sing carols on the public streets of 2012 America is not for the fainthearted. What if the police were to come by and arrest us for proselytizing? What if the citizens assembled at the township holiday celebration were to file a complaint about our hate speech. (Is that what it is when you favor one religion over another and don’t give equal time to all faiths?) Does the First Amendment still cover this?
The elderly residents of The Willows in Newhall, Calif., recently came under fire for something much less blatantly religious. The Christmas tree in their lobby caught the unwelcome attention of the managers when it dawned on them that the word “Christmas” has “Christ” in it. One resident complained: “We could put out Easter baskets, have turkey on Thanksgiving, but no tree for Christmas because it has Christ’s name in the beginning.”
I understand the tree has been spared defenestration, at least for this year, so I presume the large “Save Our Tree” sign hanging from it like a Kafkaesque tree ornament has been taken down.
As for us in Glenside, Pa., some people walked on by with a purposeful avoidance of eye contact, but a few stopped and smiled, and one guy in his car rolled down the window in the cold night air and cheered. I have been in pro-life picket lines, too, and I like Christmas caroling demonstrations better. I hope that someday the latter won’t become as scary as the former.
Hey, now we are planning a flash-mob caroling event at the mall!