I am happy to report that there was room for Jesus in Taneytown this year.
Two years ago, after an extensive approval process, the request was denied because I refused to remove a famous Christmas quote (Isaiah 9:6) and a First Amendment quote from the sponsor sign to show that the display was privately funded.
The First Amendment protects five individual citizen rights including the right of redress against the government, freedom of the press, speech, public assembly and religious practice, including religious displays in public spaces according to court rulings.
Last year, I coordinated a constitutionally protected free speech “pop-up” Nativity display at the police station in Taneytown because I had the time and person-power to do so. Citizens displayed the four Nativity figures donated by The American Nativity Scene and a sponsor sign by the city Christmas tree.
This year, having neither time, nor person power due to my busy schedule, I contacted new Mayor Bradley Wantz from Taneytown, where I reside, one day before the event to see if he could help to make the display happen on such short notice. Wantz immediately contacted Councilwoman Judith Fuller, who was coordinating the event, and then I received a text with the sponsor criteria and OK to proceed. I texted back a thank-you but that I didn’t believe I could pull it off in time by myself.
On Saturday, I attended the best Christmas bazaar ever at St. John Catholic Church in Westminster and serendipitously encountered a young handicapped woman working. Eventually, after a second “chance” encounter in a stairwell, we recognized each other as having both testified against assisted suicide in Annapolis during the 2019 legislative session. We exchanged information, hugs and tears and promised each other to bring a Pro-Life display, including the truth about assisted suicide, to the bazaar for next year. My first Christmas miracle!
That chance encounter renewed my commitment to bring the Nativity scene to the Taneytown Tree Lighting this year in less than two hours before the event.
A crisis teen pregnancy, a choice for life, and a Savior was born, as was the idea of the Nativity story as a pro-life story. But it was going to take a miracle to make it happen in time.
I made some phone calls and found a sponsor, Defend Life, of Towson. I scoured the cellar of former Councilman Don Frazier who has graciously stored the Nativity display for the third year. I found Joseph, Mary and the Angel but where was the baby Jesus? After several frantic calls which interrupted Frazier’s only Christmas celebration with his three beautiful, out-of-town daughters and two small grandsons, I finally found the Baby Jesus and loaded up my Christmas “sleigh.”
I arrived at Memorial Park one hour before the tree lighting. Fuller bent over backwards to find me a lighted space so I could set up and even helped me break down and carry the figures to the curb for loading. Wantz, doubling as event photographer, announced me as an elected guest, along with Del. Haven Shoemaker and Councilman Joe Vigliotti and took a picture of the display.
I was so impressed with the city’s flexibility and willingness to help with such a last-minute request to “make room for Jesus,” unlike the innkeeper in the famous Nativity story from Luke 2:7.
The take-away lesson? Don’t just go through the motions of Christmas this year.
Find your very own, very personal Christmas miracle, magic or mystery, the one that costs, that you sacrifice for, that touches your heart to tears. Don’t worry if it’s impulsive, intuitive and “last-minute.” Search for it, risk failure and criticism for it, and you will be blessed and, most importantly, you will be a blessing to others.
After the fun of the singing, tree lighting, hot cider and cookies and Santa coming in on a fire truck, to see young and old alike stop and pause for a moment in silent reverence to view a Mother, a Father and a Baby named Jesus who still brings hope to those who believe. What a Miracle!
My heroes for Christmas in Taneytown this year? Wantz, Fuller, Frazier and Jack Ames, executive director of Defend Life.
My Christmas Angel and inspiration? A beautiful young woman named Elizabeth, whose namesake figures prominently in the Nativity story in the Gospel of Luke, who herself is a champion for life, both for handicapped and preborn persons. Merry Christmas!
Katherine Adelaide is a member of the Carroll County Republican Central Committee. She writes from Taneytown.