“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
It seems to me that this time of year brings out the best, and paradoxically the worst, in people. It can bring out the best because it is a time of year when many people perform acts of kindness and generosity they might not otherwise do. Of course we celebrate Christmas by giving gifts to our friends and families, but often we also give to those we don’t know, either through charities or churches or just giving something to the homeless guy on the streetcorner. It is a time when many families come together, hopefully lay aside the usual petty differences that can arise within families, and celebrate Christmas together. But it can also be a time when tempers flare in the malls or in traffic, when rudeness and impatience and greed take over. A time when some people get judgemental when seeing how their family member has set the table or the neighbor has decorated their house. And it can be a time when a lot of well meaning people argue over what Christmas is and what it should be, and even whether it should be celebrated at all.
There are so many arguments out there online over this and that aspect of Christmas that I’m not going to rehash it here. Yes, it is primarily a religious holiday, and to many people who are atheists or Muslims or whatever they repudiate it as something religious being forced upon them; if seeing a manger scene in someone’s yard offends you, then don’t look, go home and shut your eyes for a month. But it seems to me that most of the harshest arguments are between two people or groups who both claim Christ and can’t resist the temptation to argue over various aspects of Christmas. Yes, no one really knows on what date Jesus Christ was born, no matter how brilliant a case they can make in support of one date or another. Yes, there have been a lot of pagan influences from Northern Europe that have been incorporated in the celebration of the birth of the Savior; so do what I do, don’t practice them. Yes, in the last century especially there has been a great deal of commercialism and avarice and materialism come into what should be a humble and peaceful time. But should we reject the holiday completely because there are flaws in how or when it is celebrated? No.
The entire, sole reason why people began to celebrate this as a holiday was to commemorate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In that manger 2,000 years ago lay the perfect union of God and man, who came into our dirty, wicked world to pay the penalty of our sins so that we imperfect, sinful mortals could receive the gift of eternal life through Him. That’s all, but then it was more than enough. Another name given to Christ in the Bible is Immanuel, which translates as “God Among Us”. He entered our world because He loved us too much to allow us to march blindly to our destruction without an exit ramp. Personally, I believe that the more important event was the death of Jesus on the cross, for that is when He atoned for our sins. His resurrection was a close second, for it is the sign to all of us that He had defeated sin and death for good. But for Him to have led a sinless life to pay for our sins at Calvary He first had to be born, and that is why we celebrate Christmas.
So let’s stop arguing over this point and that point and just celebrate the birth of our Savior. The date doesn’t matter; the fact of His birth does. Stop tearing each other down and start building each other up. And if you don’t believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior, please resist the temptation to revile those of us who do. Love one another, as Jesus told us to do. Be kinder and more patient. Be a bit more restrained in how much load you dump onto your credit cards. Argue less. And consider, even if only for a moment, the reality that on what was possibly a cold winter night in Bethlehem during the reign of Caesar Augustus, a child was born that was the union of the mortal with the immortal, of the created with the Creator. Consider the possibility that was true and not a myth. Try not to remove Christ from Christmas, for without Christ, what difference would it all make?
Merry Christmas to you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.