Ever bite off more than you can chew? In Christians and Santa Claus I tried include a brief version of the entire history of Christmas; not the story of Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem, but of where our modern celebration known as Christmas came from. That, plus what Christians do with Santa, ended up being a lot. Here’s the thing: That post is full of facts, dates, events, and reads like an encyclopedia entry. It contains a lot of information, but doesn’t convey any particular feeling. Think about watching a tv commercial for a new car. The images are poetry in motion. You see a lot of smooth lines, highway flying past, the accelerator pressing to the floor, all designed to stir your emotions. After buying the car you read the owner’s manual. The manual is full of relevant information, but probably doesn’t stir your soul the way the commercials did.
I love Christmas. While there is no scriptural command to celebrate the birth of Christ, think about it. That’s what the world had been waiting for for thousands of years. The world was created by God and was good, but that goodness was affected by sin and the curse. The entrance of sin into the world brought death. The sacrifice system was like putting a band-aid on the problem. It was a temporary remedy, not a cure. They didn’t need more laws to follow or sacrifices to make, what they needed then (and the lost need now) was an all sufficient savior. Think about a God that loves us enough to give up his only Son. Think about a Son, willing to leave heaven and condescend to our level; to become not just a human being, but one born into a poor Jewish family with few possessions. The maker of heaven and earth was born in a stable and laid in a feeding trough, not in robes but in rags. He was escorted into the world by the heavenly host; probably more like an army than a choir. The shepherds came and worshiped, the wise men traveled from afar, it’s an old story that never grows old. It brings hope to the hopeless and life to certain death. The advent of incarnate deity is a major turning point in the Bible story.
I also love the other things about Christmas. It’s the most wonderful time of the year even for many that do not acknowledge Jesus or the church. Santa Claus gives children something to look forward to, adults exchanged gifts, and we sing songs about visiting Grandma’s house and decorating the Christmas tree. Even when the carols are secular there is something special about people walking down the street and stopping at each house to sing them. Christmas brings out the best in many people, even those that do not know Christ. It’s an excellent opportunity for those of us that do to share him with others. I can appreciate a hot cup of apple cider and a claymation special on television, even if they don’t read from the Gospel of Luke at any point. The season is about hope, giving, and spending time with those we love. And it doesn’t have to be at church.
It is truly a special time of year, and it troubles me that some people waste it being angry. I also smile and respond kindly when people wish me “Happy Holidays” but you can do so much in one post.