Merry Christmas

Depending on what time of the day you are reading this I must question what you’re doing here. If it’s still Christmas morning, then get back to your family and friends! This will wait. If it’s Christmas evening then…okay. You’ve earned some rest, perhaps, and need me to help you take a nap.

Warning: I’m about to get religious. If you choose to read further and choose to be offended it’s your own fault.

Christmas is a wonderful holiday, unlike any other on the calendar. It’s one that, while try as they might, people have not been able to completely drag away from its original intent. Very few people take time to celebrate the birth of the Son of God anymore, but it’s still a holiday devoted to giving and thinking of others–even if that means stressing yourself out over what to get them, getting things ready, and making sure everything is just perfect.

Over two thousand years ago a child was born in a stable in Bethlehem. Having spent Christmas Eve morning mucking out a stable I can attest to the humble circumstances. On the other hand, I can think of few better places for the Prince of Peace to be born. The farm where I worked was about as peaceful a place as I’ve found within the city limits, made even more so by the number of large animals that do little more than stand and watch you quietly.

But while that child’s birth and early years may have been quiet (if you can consider the king of the nation ordering your death to be ‘quiet’), his life made an impact not only in his own time, but throughout history. Through the years many have subsumed his name and his purpose to their own, and they will pay for that someday, but they haven’t quite been able to erase his example and his sacrifice.

Many people today look on Jesus as nothing more than a great moral teacher. I suppose that’s comforting to them, because it requires nothing on their part. But I am not one of those people. I am here to add my voice to the millions throughout history who laud Jesus Christ as nothing less than the Son of God and Savior of the world.

God has a plan for all of us, and coming to earth is part of that plan. We are here to be tested, to see if we will choose for ourselves to follow God. Our mortal condition allows that test to be temporary, but it also makes it difficult for us to escape this life without falling prey to sin. Were we left to our own devices we would all fail the test.

We needed a savior, and for that God sent his son. He paid the price for all our sins and shortcomings, all while living a perfect life himself. All he asks of us is to follow his example, and believe–not just a simple, inert belief, but true faith that grows beyond mere thoughts to take control of our lives and make it better. While it is our faith on Christ that saves us from our sins, our faith is shown through what we make of ourselves, what we do for others.

And that’s why Christmas, though it’s certainly become over-commercialized, remains uncorrupted at its heart. Christmas is about giving good gifts to others in memory of the gift that God gave us by sending his son, and that Christ gave us by opening the doors of mercy for us all. So even though we may not think much about Christ while battling the hoards on Black Friday, there is the Savior’s own statement: Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

There will always be more to do in the world: more wrongs to right, more lives to lift, more suffering to ease. But even on day a year when we give gifts to family, friends, and loved ones because of what they mean to us can’t be a bad thing. That long-time but distant friend we reached out to with good wishes makes a difference. That person at the store we smiled at and let go first in line makes a difference.

So whenever you read this, take a few minutes to think about all the people you care about, and all the people who care about you. All those connections make the world a better place. That is what Christmas is about, at least partly, and part of the reason Christ was born to this earth–to bring us all closer together as a human family. Let’s enjoy it for a moment…and give thanks to him whose birth we celebrate.