After enjoying a beautiful Christmas Day service with my Church family and a light lunch with my awesome wife, I’m watching some fantastic school kids performing on a repeat of the Schools’ Spectacular on TV.
Watching these kids sing and dance, and put all their heart and soul into their presentations, my heart is encouraged with hope that our nation’s future may be something that is positive, uplifting and bright. These young people are our future. They have the right perspective on the evil of warmongering, the importance of genuine reconciliation with and giving a voice to the indigenous peoples, and just plain enjoying life.
Um . . . what was that you said? Oh, but they don’t have anything to say about Jesus and seem to fail mentioning or giving glory to God for their gifts?
Hm. . . . I guess that’s where this blog on Christmas Day is headed.
Like ‘Christmas,’ religious folks tend to take such things so seriously. No longer can we be wished ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Greetings of the Season.’ If ‘Christ’ is not kept in Christmas (because ‘Jesus is the reason for the season’), then it is a sure sign the world is going down the tubes on a highway to hell.
It seems that one of the great heroes of the Christian faith, St Paul, probably wouldn’t agree with your take on the ‘war on Christmas.’ In fact, he was one who would take a poem written by a Greek poet about Zeus and turn it on its head by saying it speaks of the Christian God. Yup. “In Him we live and move and have our being” was written about the god Zeus by Epimenedes. This didn’t seem to be an issue with the apostle. He didn’t flinch at all. He never told his listeners to ‘turn or burn’ and he definitely didn’t hold up any ‘John 3:16’ signs.
I don’t know about you, but if Paul was ready to take a pagan tome about a well-known Greek god and, essentially, say ‘He was speaking of God, the father of Jesus the Christ,’ then we can surely take a well-intended ‘Happy Holidays’ or a song like ‘Jingle Bells’ sung by carollers to be a sincere wish for good health and happiness.
Hope, Joy, Peace, Love. We celebrate these through Advent arriving, as Christians, to the Christ-child on Christmas Day.
To the non-religious, these are found in family, in relationships, in fun times and social interaction. They may not know or recognise this, but these are gifts from a generous God.
Even something so blatantly non-religious like making the holidays a time to spend with family and friends can be that which brings the positive energy and happiness, memories of which will sustain us in future days of despair, absence or loss.
We may not know that, during these dry seasons of our life, we are being held by a loving, gracious God. God, through the families he gave us. The bonds we nurture and grow by God’s providence, often pulls us through. Though we don’t always attribute this to God, it is through all our life and relationships that “in Him we live and move and have our being.” Yes, those warm fuzzy feelings you get when you think of home–God put them there. That longing for relationship and intimacy–that too.
Looking back at the end of a life well-lived, we may well see that God has provided through well-intentioned people, funny song lyrics, and seemingly-God-absent-wishes of friends, all the encouragement, love and grace we needed.
And, seriously, a little white wine in the sun with family and friends on Christmas Day won’t go astray either.
Happy Holidays everybody!