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Sign of the Times: What Do You Think of Central Ave. Christmas Banners?

An Oak Forest resident has hung religious signs of the season on fences that line Central Avenue as a way to keep the focus of Christmas on Jesus.

Religious Christmas signs line Central Avenue in Oak Forest. | Credit: Joe Vince
Religious Christmas signs line Central Avenue in Oak Forest. | Credit: Joe Vince
For most people celebrating Christmas, decorating involves stringing lights, putting up a tree and possibly displaying a Nativity scene.

But for one Oak Forest resident, decorating for the holiday has become part of a personal spiritual journey and something he's shared with residents and other motorists traveling along Central Avenue.

During the beginning of the month, this resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, has posted large Christmas signs that deliver Christian messages along Central Avenue. He calls it Christ on Central.

"All [the] signs are positive, encouraging messages," the resident said in an email. "… The people are amazing in which I've met through Christ on Central. I tried and reached as many as I could that believed in Jesus Christ."

This is the second year this resident has been placing signs along Central. He and a few volunteers have hung about a dozen signs on neighbors' fences that face Central as a way to keep the focus of Christmas on Jesus.

"God has a plan for all of us. You just have to find what is God's plan for you," he wrote in an email. "I believe this is a start for me. Don't know if this is all of God's plan for me, but it is a part."

The resident has city approval to do this, and he only puts signs up on willing neighbors' fences. But he wants to remain anonymous for the same reason he's putting up the signs: to keep the focus of Christmas on Jesus.

YOUR TURN: What do you think of these Christmas signs lining Central Avenue? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
Roger December 17, 2013 at 01:49 PM
Michele, no, the season is for whatever your culture or tradition or fancy dictates. Just because we live in a predominantly Christian society does not mean that Jesus is the reason for festive holiday celebrations in the month of December. Such celebrations pre-date Christianity and the Bible. Originally such celebrations were due to the winter solstice, just the same as Easter is an offshoot of the celebration of the spring solstice. Feel free to celebrate according to your own beliefs. However, do not feel free to tell others what they have to believe.
michele enright December 17, 2013 at 02:02 PM
Roger you need to learn I said the reason for the Christmas season not just The Season. The actual season is winter!! If you want to say this is just the Holiday season that is up to you and you can celebrate it any way you want. Have a nice day.
michele enright December 17, 2013 at 02:04 PM
sorry Roger that is suppose to say you need to learn to read.
Roger December 17, 2013 at 02:17 PM
My reading comprehension skills are fine. I am an atheist and I celebrate Christmas. Jesus is not required for the season. If you are a Christian, great, don't try telling me that I can't celebrate Christmas in a secular manner, unless you want to create a new name for the holiday that involves Santa, gift giving, time with family, etc. that doesn't involve Jesus.
michele enright December 17, 2013 at 02:35 PM
I am not telling you how to celebrate, you are saying that Christmas is the season. Well again the season is winter and Christmas is for Christians which happen to celebrate Christmas so for Christians it is the Christmas season!!! For atheist it is the WINTER season. I feel you keep trying to deprive me of my right to believe in Jesus and celebrate him. I really have no problem with what you believe so why do you insist that I am not suppose to see this as the Christmas season and if a Christian wants to put up signs or decorations that should not be a problem. You have the right to not like it but you don't have the right to say they should not put those things up. By the way my family is Jewish and I have no problem spending time with them during their holidays.
Roger December 17, 2013 at 02:37 PM
Every comment I've made has supported the rights of the homeowners to have their signs up. I simply disagree with them.
michele enright December 17, 2013 at 02:59 PM
Merry Christmas Roger
Fr Joe Noonan December 17, 2013 at 03:48 PM
A few thoughts from the above comments. The signs are on personal property and the City was contacted to my knowledge to ascertain that it was within the property owner rights to post such signs. The city neither did or did not approve the signs per se only clarified that signs not of a business or political nature were allowed on personal property. The signs are privately funded and hung at the discretion of each property owner with a singular person and some volunteers coordinating the printing and sign slogans etc. Christians did use the winter solstice for the establishment of Christmas. The exact day of Jesus birth is not known and knowing the exact date really is not important. The importance of the Christmas celebration established by Christians was to celebrate the incarnation and Jesus birth. Most objective atheists recognize that the world wide spread of Christmas far outreaches the few cultures (mostly northern Europeans) who celebrated the winter solstice as the beginning of longer and warmer days ahead (more hours of sun). Few southern cultures who now celebrate Christmas pursued such winter solstice celebrations as cold winters were not their concern and their length of days were not as severely effected. (IE: Florida currently enjoys an hour more of sun then Chicagoland.) Christianity spread the celebration of Christmas globally to many cultures who had no celebration in winter or at the winter solstice. Christmas for these cultures began and in many ways is still founded on the celebration of Jesus Christ. Now arguably, like Roger points out, many people have personal or cultural meanings for Christmas that have shifted or never accepted the birth of Christ as their rational for celebrating Christmas, hence the growth of "Happy Holidays" the political correctness in stores and in media to avoid the expression Merry Christmas. Arguably commercialism is now the center of many people's Christmas and has driven the holiday in stronger ways in the last 50 years than religious pursuits. The many Christian roots of Christmas symbols and traditions have been taken over by commercialism. Presents in some Christian cultures were actually exchanged for a long time on St. Nicholas day (from whom Santa Claus has derived most notably with the poem, "Twas the Night before Christmas") or on the Epiphany (2nd Sunday after Christmas) which celebrates the Magi bringing gifts to the Christ child. Objectively minded atheists concede that Christmas was historically globally promulgated by Christians to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and the Christmas symbols from the Christmas tree to stockings on the fireplace have Christian origins. As well, objectively minded Christians concede that the Christmas celebration has moved for many people and even the USA beyond a religious celebration. For nonChristians, including atheists, Jews, etc., there are numerous meanings and reason to celebrate which do not include the birth of Jesus. For some it is gift giving and a time when family and friends gather without religious meaning or intent. Both sides need not argue but when faced with differing views, merely be honest and respectful. The signs on Central (for me) are not to offend people who hold different beliefs but rather to encourage those who profess a Christian faith to not fall in to the consumerism that tends to drain the life out of a spiritual Christmas celebration. The signs may be akin to a political sign or bumper sticker trying to get out the vote on election day. Those who do not ascribe to that political party tend to shirk off the message and go about their day while those of the same political mindset may be encouraged to "get out the vote". Although nota perfect analogy as politics and faith are vastly different, the signs hope to instill action in those who ascribe to belief versus offense to those who do not.
Cynthia Lisa Gilles December 17, 2013 at 04:19 PM
Glory to God! Thank you for walking in obedience. It is such an encouragement to see these signs to know that there are others that still recognize the true meaning of Christmas! And thank you Oak Forest for allowing this man to spread the Love of Christ!
Michael M. December 17, 2013 at 11:30 PM
Father Joe, Well said. You also seem to have stifled the discussion, I think that is a sign of respect toward you, who can argue with the guy who has the inside info. Anyway, I don't want Christianity forced on anyone, but I do pray that those who don't believe find their way to Christ; and maybe this little discussion of ours sparks curiosity in some and they begin their journey. God does work in mysterious ways, why not on The Patch!? I also want my beliefs as a Christian respected and tolerated as I am expected to tolerate others. Lately it seems that if you profess your Christianity, you are considered intolerant. Christians are very tolerant people and it is not the person that we condemn, but the behavior. To clarify, Christians do realize we are imperfect and sinners, but that doesn't mean we can't communicate to each other when we see actions that are not of God, it is the Christian thing to do. Merry Christmas, unless you are offended.
Michael M. December 17, 2013 at 11:32 PM
As for the city approval of signs; it is not their business.
karyn czarnecki December 18, 2013 at 09:41 AM
Love the signs! Where can I get one?
Roger Norkus December 18, 2013 at 11:15 AM
Great Idea....Merry Christmas
James Deegan December 18, 2013 at 07:00 PM
I have been wanted one ever since he started putting them out. We have contacted him and have offered a donation, I really like them a lot. I think it would be fine to display Hanukkah and Kwanzaa banners if those who celebrate those holidays would be willing to do the work to display them and foot the bill.
Debbie Jackson December 18, 2013 at 08:34 PM
I love the signs! As a Christian, I feel Christ should be kept in Christmas and as an American, we enjoy the freedom of openly practicing our beliefs. God Bless America and wishing you all a blessed holiday and love, peace and joy in the New Year!
Ryan Spellman December 18, 2013 at 09:37 PM
When I first saw the title of this article, I nearly passed. But in a point of understanding other people's points of view on the religious subject, I read on. It's pretty much a shame that this is news. It's equally sad that people are still arguing over who rules December. Christmas is the winter holiday that is celebrated by Christians, Catholics and non denoms alike. For a millennium these Christians have ruled the majority of the western world bringing its customs and traditions with it. As our nation evolved over centuries, immigrants started to move to America from places with people of more diverse religions, like Judaism, Kwanzaa, and Islam. Many non-Christian believers have not been very welcoming to other cultures as they are more open in public. To some it is threatening, to some it’s just strange. But to many, it is an attack on their beloved holiday. Take Kwanzaa for instance: African Americans were stripped of their family trees and lost most of their customs through slavery. It has taken over a century for African Americans to find something from the land of their ancestors, a celebration of life. They give gifts of books, and music and song. They share a comfort that comes from being with people that make them happy, doing their own traditions that make them happy. The strange part of it all is that through the negativity, jeers, and boastfulness, the spirit behind it all is lost. I think it would benefit everyone to take a few minutes to read up on other religious customs and the meanings behind them. I got curious one day and started reading up a bit on the internet and learned that many of our customs are similar, or at least have similar meanings. Does it really matter which tradition or custom is dominant when the meanings behind them are the same? If we as people really ever want to live like Jesus we should open our arms, or eyes, and our hearts, and take an interest in the person behind the cultures. Find out what these mean to them and why they are so dear to them. I guarantee it will be different, but there has to be a certain respect for any person that has a routine in their life devoted to positive living and loving others. I like seeing the signs on Central. They remind me of some of the older Christmas decorations we used to put up as kids. I wouldn’t mind seeing signs celebrating other cultural or religious holidays. It’s a great way to introduce different cultures of people to children. Though, many religious holidays are more reflection and prayer without the boastful joy. Everyone has a right to their beliefs and a right to celebrate them. I can respect that. I am looking forward to celebrating Christmas with my family and friends, exchanging gifts and enjoying company. I wished my Jewish friends a Happy Hanukkah a few weeks ago. I didn’t feel weird about it either. For what it’s worth, I grew up going to Catholic grade school from K-8. Then I went to a diverse public high school, but ended up at a Catholic University. Check out this link, I found it quite helpful. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/01/religious-holidays-2013_n_2372650.html#Muslim Merry Christmas Everyone, and Happy Holidays!
Michael M. December 18, 2013 at 10:11 PM
Kwanza is not a religion and was started in the 1966 by Maulana Karenga, who was sentenced to one to ten years in prison on counts of felonious assault and false imprisonment. You need to do better research. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maulana_Karenga http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kwanzaa
Bob Laird December 18, 2013 at 10:44 PM
one atheist. a bunch of people happy with the signs. survey says........ merry Christmas to all whatever your faith.
Ryan Spellman December 18, 2013 at 10:52 PM
Michael, I appreciate your ability to disprove credibility using Wikipedia, the most reliable of sources. Though Kwanzaa is a cultural celebration that is not religious in any form, it is used as a way for that culture to celebrate life as we do. Besides, religions are cultures. I'm sure you ascribe to one. If not, you are an atheist. That's also a culture. You obviously missed the point. It's The Christmas season for me so I'll let it slide. There's always at least one person on these posts that enjoy taking a large dump on the rest of us trying to stay pleasant. I hope it makes you feel better to make others feel bad.
Michael M. December 18, 2013 at 11:36 PM
I am not dumping on anyone, you made the claim that kwanza was a religion and all I did was correct you. Although I agree that Wikipedia is not the best source, in this case it is correct, I am sure you can do your own research. Also, I do not control your feelings and rather thought you sounded intelligent in your post, I was just correcting one portion of your comment. Merry Christmas, Ryan
Rich Dunkel December 19, 2013 at 09:45 AM
I've seen the signs, but they generally leave me more confused than anything. Now I know that true tolerance is a dying thing in this country where absolutism and a general 'with us or against us' mentality has flourished, but I think that most rational adults can still withstand being told "Merry Christmas" or even *gasp* "God be with you" and take it for what it is, a well wishing. What I think, that as a society, we are becoming increasingly weary of having all these various groups 'message' jammed down our throats on a near weekly, daily, hourly basis. I also become moderately bemused that the signs proclaiming "the reason for the season", while using imagery from other religions and traditions that was _their_ (non Jesus) reason for the season. Something to think about. One way or another, from this countries various backgrounds, religion, etc, christmas is a cultural tradition here whether you're a believer or not. I think we will take it for what it is, and just let it be a time for extra family, food, festivities and such, thus many people start to increasingly resent having one group trying to ever more obnoxiously (re)claim this holiday for themselves and only their way, yet again. Here, in this country, the festival at this time of year is generally called Christmas, which another group celebrating a similar celebration of Hanukkah, whatever the originating name of it is. I also observe Thursday, even if the original designation was "THOR's Day" or even "That day before payday when I'm REALLY broke". Bonus points tho for checking with the city first and doing the due diligence to make sure that this act was within the laws of the town and so forth. The respect for public order and decency is definitely admirable.
Rich Dunkel December 19, 2013 at 09:46 AM
... also, apologies for the wall of text. My response WAS nicely formatted into paragraphs when I hit submit. Must have done something wrong, my bad.
Ryan Spellman December 19, 2013 at 04:00 PM
Michael M. I stand corrected. After rereading my own comment you are correct. I did mention Kwanzaa as a religion. It was unintentional and I apologize for being harsh. Kwanzaa is not a religion, but a cultural celebration. I was just trying to point out that we should all learn to be a little more tolerant of other people's traditions. So far, it seems that many of Patch's readers are tolerant and just want to be able to put up whatever signs they choose. Pushing Jesus isn't offensive and people shouldn't care. I am more annoyed that stories like this pass as news. This is the type of antagonistic jargon that provokes arguments. A guy from a church wanted to put up signs so he asked a few people that lived there if they minded. They didn't. End of story.
michele enright December 20, 2013 at 12:11 AM
Father Joe didn't stifle anything I was tired of arguing with someone that can only see things his way.
Michael M. December 20, 2013 at 10:24 AM
I was being playful withe the stifle comment. It was in jest.
michele enright December 20, 2013 at 11:49 AM
Thant is funny Michael, I am an old lady and I remember a time when people had the right to their opinions. In todays world everything has to be politically correct. The problem with that is it takes away our freedom of speech and no matter what you say someone, somewhere will be offended. I really think we need to stop trying to please everyone at all times and get back to being able to have a personal opinion, people have to realize that they will have some that disagree and it's ok.
Michael M. December 20, 2013 at 01:18 PM
I am right there with you Michele.
fred December 21, 2013 at 08:45 PM
A tree decorated with ornaments and lights in the US, near December 25th, is a Christmas tree. The name Christ is in Christmas. That fat old man in the red suit also hanging around is known as Santa, another Christmas symbol. No apologies nor explanations needed in the US for these two symbols. Symbols of respect and cheer. Merry Christmas.
James Czyznikiewicz December 25, 2013 at 07:20 AM
Wonderful, just wonderful! Merry Christmas everyone!
RDF December 25, 2013 at 04:04 PM
I would be happy to put one up in my yard. Where can Yhey be obtained?

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