My Christmas Problems
of which there are many.
of which there is one.
I don’t think Jesus was born on December 25th, or on the 24th, In fact, I have serious doubts about whether he was born in December. Yes, I think we have it all wrong, at least concerning the birth date, and the wise men at the manger, and the innkeeper. And while I am at it; There was no drummer boy, Joy to the World was not a Christmas Carol and Do You Hear What I Hear is a song about the Cuban Missile Crisis. No one knows, or cares what figgy pudding is and don’t bring me any if you do know. The Christmas tree tradition certainly has questionable origins. Good King Wenceslas was not a King. The origin of Santa Claus is claimed by lots of ethnic groups and Coca-Cola. The night wasn’t very silent what with the angel’s bellowing their anthem. There is evidence that caroling at the door hoping for a cup of cocoa was the “civilized” alternative to singing naked at the door for a cup of, well, not just cocoa. OK, one more I have to get off my chest. Why in the world do we make, bake, decorate and then eat representations of people?
Really? And that has what significance to Christmas?
One of my favorite Christmas scenes was a display in the mall in Siricha, Thailand. It had a traditional manger scene, a palm tree and a camel, Christmas tree, presents, Santa and one reindeer, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs! It was quite a mix! i wasn’t sure if i should laugh, cry, or pray.
As you can see, I have a lot of questions about the tradition of Christmas. There is conclusive evidence that Christmas was super-imposed on an existing celebration called Saturnalia, a very raucous festival of Roman origin to celebrate the conquering of the sun over the darkness, following the winter solstice.
Should we really implicate Jesus in all of this?
Maybe ‘implicate’ isn’t the right word.
Incarnate would be a better word. That’s what Jesus did. He put himself, flesh and breath, right in the middle of the scene. There he was. And what we know for certain is there were shepherds. And shepherds had a reputation of being a little…well…we don’t know anything for certain. But there were shepherds and there was Jesus.
Jesus was there and he began transforming things from the inside out. Jesus didn’t separate himself, rather he connected to. And as he connected he brought things into their proper place and priority and perspective. He incarnated. He connected. He reconciled.
Perhaps the winter solstice is not such a bad point of connection after all. You want to celebrate the indomitable sun conquering the darkness? Me too!! And as I connect with you through your symbol of joy and hope perhaps i may also connect you my relationship of joy and hope. We can reconcile the hunger misdirected to the fulfillment resurrected.
Read what Paul did in Athens (Acts 17:16-34). He commended their religious appetite, connected to their experience and then showed them reconciliation to their “Unknown God”. He transformed from the inside out.
So what if we are imposing on a pagan tradition. It’s a good imposition. We are the continued incarnation of Jesus, full of grace and truth. The truth is, much of the Christmas celebration is not ours. Just like the wedding at Cana wasn’t Jesus’ wedding. But Jesus was there, in the flesh and he reconciled the event to purpose and glory of his Father. I personally, am not unlike that wedding, experiencing the reconciliation of Jesus right in the midst of my own celebration.
What joy Jesus brings to wherever he is given presence.
We are equipped to do the same.