The Spirit of Christmas is a Spirit of a “Holy Day.” That phrase (“Holy Day”) of course, has morphed to a less religious term now of “holiday.” That seems innocuous enough, until we see that the “Holy” in the season of “Christmas” would now be completely overwhelmed in the sea of consumerism and what Paul calls “party spirit,” if not for the faithful Body of Christ. The voice of the Church today is to be like that “other voice” also in the wilder- ness of its own time, “crying out” (in our wilderness) “to prepare the way of the Lord” (to hear the Word of the Lord).
Unlike many others, I can find no Christian reason to be angry about this turn of events. I do not blame it on the government, or the media, or the businesses seeking to take advantage of our “Holy Day” to make a profit. They were never commissioned by Christ to “evangelize” our neighborhoods, our towns, our cities, our nation, or the utter most parts of the earth.
The Church however, was commissioned to tell the Good News” of the God who very “Essence” is that of giving. He gave creation. He gave us a tiny corner of this universe in which life has come forth with just the right formulation of elements to support what we know here as life. And while he gave us all of this, he took a chance (so to speak) on human beings, by making us in God’s own image and giving to us privileges and responsibilities. Over time, after we forgot where we came from and his many gifts, our Crea- tor did the unthinkable. He poured himself out of his power and into the flesh of an obscure man from an obscure village in an out of the way part of the tiny vassal state called Judah. We believe a real flesh and blood man, Jesus, was God literally among us. Through Jesus he offers to give us forgiveness and new life.
Mysteriously, he was the Logos (Divine Word). He came to be called the “Son of God.” But he was “begotten” not “created”, meaning that while we were “created” in the image of God (analogous to an artist who creates something that is different from him, yet has a part of his likeness in the creation) Christ Jesus was of the very Essence of God (of the same stuff, one with, with God from all eternity. And what we see in him confirms for us who believe, that the essence of God is “Grace” (gift). And that is the true “Spirit” of this “Holy Day” and season we know as Christ- mas.
This is our message to the rest of the World at Christmas. The God who created us loves us so much that he came to live in the flesh among us. He gave to us the greatest gift. He personally has come to rescue us from ourselves with a new kind of life that is everlasting. The person of Jesus is the ultimate expression of
God’s love. And thus a good tradition of giving to others on a des- ignated day of the year is a worthy tradition of kindness and goodwill.
Sadly, in our time, most of the world and many of Christ’s own followers have been lured away from that good tradition into something altogether different. It is thus, as almost always through history, the Body Christ who cries out in our own kind of wilderness today. Really we can lay the blame on others only so long; until the truth confronts us.
Nevertheless, we in the Body of Christ still have a remarkable opportunity in this now very secularized society. The true “Spirit” of God in Christ has even, if in a perverted way for most, has its effect. That is so because the message of Christmas is still being told. And even those beyond the Church know that something was given to the world at Bethlehem. So I urge you, Church, keep tell- ing others what that means.
A Blessed Christmas to You All,