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Keeping the lights bright for Christmas, throughout year

Some are quick to criticize the retail sector for the pre-Halloween shift to Christmas marketing, with ongoing "sales spectacular" efforts ramping up every day all the way to Black Friday and on through Advent.

And the retailers probably deserve some criticism. But, if it seems the retail industry wants to rush us into Christmas, it seems others want to rush us out of Christmas.

News stories Christmas Day include reports of where to dispose of Christmas trees, and at some homes, the trees have already made it to the curb by the end of the day. Christmas, according to some, is over.

While environmental efforts can be applauded, and the need to take down the tree for those who might be traveling can be understood, most of us might try to make more of an effort to hang on to Christmas.

After all, Christmas – for Catholics – isn’t a day, it’s a season that continues through the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (this year, Jan. 9).

So, why not celebrate?

Keep the tree up at least through Epiphany. Keep those other decorations out through the home. Keep those outside decorations shining each night, not in anticipation, but in celebration.

But most important, keep a focus on the focus of the season – the gift of Christ for each one of us. That’s good to remember on Dec. 26 and Jan. 2 and – although the season ends in early January – throughout the rest of the year.

 

A VITAL ROLE

The start of the new year means state senators return to Lincoln for another legislative session, and a new Congress and a new administration will take the reins of the federal government in Washington, D.C.

Just what all that means in terms of policy and legislation, no one knows, but one thing is certain. There will be plenty of activity, plenty of proposals and plenty of discussions.

And the church needs to have a voice in those discussions.

Some believe that should not be the case, challenging the church for getting "involved" in government. But that criticism is misguided.

Although Nebraska voters disagreed, we needed the state’s bishops to take a strong stand against the death penalty. That type of leadership was important not only as a resource for Catholics, but as a statement beyond religion for society in general.

As with the death penalty referendum, the issues don’t need to be church specific. In the upcoming legislative session, Nebraska’s bishops will have an opportunity to speak out on some bills related to church, such as a tax credit for donations to scholarship funds. But the bishops also can and should weigh in on any of several other issues, offering a much needed perspective from the church.

The same is true at the national level. The U.S. bishops must be a strong voice on many issues. The president-elect says he is pro-life. Just what that means remains to be seen, but church leaders can certainly continue their efforts related to the funding of Planned Parenthood and the use of tax money for abortion.

While they speak out for the unborn, they must be heard on issues that affect those children already born. Church leaders need to stand with the poor when tax proposals are offered, work to make sure social service programs don’t fall victim to arbitrary budget cuts and support efforts addressing just wages, health insurance for all, immigration policy and much more.

A church presence at the table of government isn’t about imposing one religion on society in general, but rather, accepting the responsibility of being a part – a very significant part – of that society.

 

Deacon Randy Grosse is editor and general manager of the Catholic Voice. Contact him at ragrosse@archomaha.org.

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