Friday, December 25, 2009

The Christ in our Christmas

Merry Christmas, friends, and I mean it. Celebrate! Be merry!

Why? Because we’ve passed the winter solstice successfully and the sun is coming back home—as it were—to the Northern Hemisphere, and that’s a pretty good indication that we may experience another spring soon!

The air is, of course, full of the admonitions to “keep Christ in Christmas,” or “put Christ back into Christmas,” and so on, but as loudly as anyone can shout that from the rooftops, our cultural world will continue to celebrate “Christmas” as a family holiday, a feasting time, a time for gift-giving, readings from Isaiah and Luke and the playing of “Christmas” CDs and old movie classics like Dickens “A Christmas Carol.” Plus—of course—the ubiquitous trees with lights, the wreaths and the mad, stress-driven last minute shopping.

Adding to all this a sideways nod to the babe in the manger may well be a case of too little, too late, too guilt-driven—like phoning grandma on December 26th and wishing her a happy Christmas there in the nursing home in Timbuktu.

Here’s a thought. The Christmas holiday is a cultural habit. It’s a much-needed celebration in the midst of the coldest, bleakest phase of the earth’s cycles, when we fragile humans have to put out our best just to survive and can barely remember green grass and flowers. Let it be a celebration of the fact that the days are lengthening now and hope is abroad again.

I don’t quite get the “Put Christ back into Christmas” admonition, as if it were possible to take him out, put him in, or control his whereabouts in any way whatsoever. Far better to “put him” where he’d rather be: a wise and guiding partner in the way we live our lives every day of the year. Were that to be our stance, Christmas, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, Thanksgiving, as well as every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, would have Christ and his gospel implicit at its core, minus the phoney and futile admonitions to (at least) feel guilty if we celebrate in any way excepting on our knees.

So enjoy your families, relish the anticipation of gifts unopened under the tree, give thanks to your creator for the good things (turkey and sage dressing, for instance) that his earth has provided for you, do something to make the turn of the season a hopeful moment for someone else.

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.

And when you read, “Put Christ back into Christmas,” think, “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, you have done it unto me.” It’s impossible to take Christ out of any part of a life lived by this tenet.

Merry Christmas!

No comments:

Post a Comment