Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Christmas: The Great Diversion

A lot has been said about the Happiness of Holidays compared to the Merriness of Christmas. For some reason this is a big deal this season. The disposition of the various bell-ringing foot soldiers in the Salvation Army has also been brought up ad infinitum. I've written about it here too so if anything I've fall into the same folly.

Frankly my fellow members of the faithful, I think we've been duped. I think we may have fallen, yet again, for the diversionary movement of the devil. We are sitting hunkered down in our little Christian foxholes, shooting at the stuff we can see, while the whole army of hell starts turning our flank.

Sorry, I work for the Army so my military analogies may occasionally get the better of me.

Church this weekend featured a short video during the service about the Christmas Story. It constituted what was basically Jaywalking segment ala the Tonight Show, where a guy with a microphone and a camera interviewed people on the street about "the Christmas Story." What was it he asked? The answers ranged from little Ralphie with his Red Ryder BB-gun, to Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim, to presents (thanks Eric Cartman), and then to the coming of Santa Claus with his tiny reindeer.

Finally, this guy with a big red knit hat, a big white beard, and a red Christmas tree sweater got it right. He looked a lot like Santa, but frankly he was probably a truck driver or Unix programmer. What he said went something like this:
2000 years ago God sent his only son to earth as an atoning sacrifice for the redemption of sins.
Folks this is what I am talking about. We argue about social issues and holiday observance, but we are forgetting to tell the real story to those who don't know it. Telling the real story is our mission, to share the truth of Christmas to the world. Not just one day a year, but every day and often.

Christmas is about the greatest gift ever. It is about a gift given unto each one of us personally to accept or reject. It is about the redemption of humanity from the shackles of death which he brought to completion at Easter. It is about Gods Gift that no wrapping paper can contain. Shout it from the rooftops! Unto us a child is born! Unto us a Son is given!

And then when you get hoarse from shouting, sit back and think about the Christmas story. The Prince of Creation born in a lowly stable because there was no room for him at the inn. Both lowly Shepherds and noble Magi coming to pay him homage. They brought gifts which Joseph and Mary probably spent during their frantic flight to Egypt in order to avoid the agents of Herod who sought the head of the newborn King of the Jews.

Its a pretty amazing story, isn't it? Now think about why God did all that. Why did he send his Son to die so that we might live? The answer can only be that he loved us. Think about the immensity of that love. Mankind, for as nice as we seem, stood condemned eternally before that day and God was completely justified in doing so. But now we have life and abundantly.

So my brothers I give you this lesson. Christmas is not a winter holiday. Christmas is an eternal thing to be celebrated and shared year round in our hearts. A big part of the reason we have to fight about the nature of observance and a hundred other things is because we keep Christmas shut up inside us way too much. Let Christmas out. Let Christ out.

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