Why-Celebrate-Christmas? With the proliferation of holidays celebrated world wide, both religious and secular, why does Christmas stand out above all the rest? What is it that makes Christmas so special?
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A Modern Rendering Of The Spirit Of Christmas Portraying Santa Clause and Frosty The Snowman . Are they stealing the limelight?
Well ..... maybe, but surely it can also be argued that they, along with other similar characters, actually serve as vehicles for parables to convey spiritual and ethical truths to young and receptive minds?
They may be part of folk lore that has come to overlay the Christmas story, but they remain “good guys”, spreading empathy, joy, and happiness. Isn't that what Jesus also came to do?
Why-celebrate-Christmas ? Let us examine the special ethos that has come to surround Christmas making it more than just another holiday, for both Christians and non-Christians alike.
The origins of Christmas go back to a time when the church leadership expressed a desire to celebrate the Incarnation of the God-child Jesus Christ. The idea naturally focuses on the beautiful, heart rending story, related mainly in the gospel of Luke.
We read here of a travel-weary Joseph and a heavily pregnant Mary, unable to find lodging in Bethlehem, and eventually having to settle down in a corner of a stable.
We read of her child being born, wrapped in swaddling cloths, and laid in an animal feeding trough to serve as a crib. This birth was announced by a "Heavenly Host" to a number of shepherds minding their sheep in the open countryside.
We read in Luke 2: 8 - 14 NLT:
“That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them.
"Do not be afraid!" he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior - yes, the Messiah, the Lord - has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snuggly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger. "
"Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others - the armies of heaven - praising God and saying,"
"Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased."
Can we imagine a more humble beginning for part of the Devine Godhead, our Creator, in taking on a human body? Is it even possible for us to fully grasp the significance of Him laying aside His awesome power - the same power that created the universe - and becoming merely an utterly helpless human baby born in a stable among animals, with only a few humble shepherds as the only witnesses.
A further irony is that, in the culture of the times, the social regard of shepherds was so low that their testimony was not accepted in a court of law! This is what makes Christmas unique.
This tumultuous event did not occur with Kingly pomp and glory, as one would expect, but took place on the fringes of society, virtually unnoticed. The Gospels show us that this in fact was the ethos of Jesus' ministry.
Wherever Jesus went He exuded love and empathy, regardless of a person's status. He showed a special empathy for those relegated to the fringes of society. What's more, He laid his life down for others - for us!
Over the centuries the celebration of Christmas has taken on a special vibe. It has become part of many cultures - each culture coloring the event with its own unique local traditions, thereby determining how Christmas is celebrated in different places.
It is therefore understandable that Christmas has over time become so infused with folklore and children stories. Yes, it has also become secularized and is now-a-days co-opted even by non-Christians as part of their traditional inherited culture. No wonder we seem to hear more about "Santa Clause" and "Jingle Bells" than of Jesus Christ.
So we return to the question: “ Why-Celebrate-Christmas ”? It has become a time of partying and excess. The day has also been joined with the celebration of the Gregorian New Year to form what is termed “the Festive Season”, and the whole event has become over-commercialized. No wonder that devout Christians plead: “Put Christ Back Into Christmas!”
I would, however, like to question whether - even in this sense - it can really be stated that Christ has been removed from Christmas? Behind all the tinsel, the partying, and the shopping Christmas still retains that special ambiance, even among non-believers, which we call “the Spirit of Christmas”!
The Spirit of Christmas should be more than just a time for family reunions, along with contacting and visiting old friends and showing that we love and care for one and another. All of these celebrations infused with the inclination to show empathy for the poor and the less fortunate members in our communities - and especially those that have become marginalized survive on the fringes of society.
To give and show empathy is laudable, but we must guard against the tendency for it to become impersonal. That the people being helped do not become just faceless members of a crowd. Remember, just like us, each one of them has a story!
Here is one such story:
We do not know how Anne ended up on the streets of Los Angeles, but we do know that despite her daily struggles, she still finds slivers of happiness everywhere. "Love ... is people who care about each other, help each other; it's supposed to be 50/50," she explains. Her heartbreaking story is a great reminder that we were put on this earth to help one another, even when we think we cannot make a difference.
Remember that Jesus in His last recorded parable did not preach theology, but posed the question: “What did you do for the least of these?”
So, I believe that anywhere in the world, on any day, where a helping hand reaches out to help others - even among non-believers, Jesus is present.
Why-Celebrate-Christmas? Well, the "Spirit of Christmas" embodies the Truth, Beauty and Goodness that Jesus stands for. That is why Christmas remains special!