Two things happen culturally every Christmas nowadays.
- We are treated to a parade of cultural insights on the “real meaning” of Christmas
- We get lectured by the smart set about how Christmas is an amalgam of pagan holidays just overlayed with Christianity and isn’t even the right time of year for Jesus’s birth!
Yes, we get it. Christians are toothless Neanderthals to the elite coastals and wannabes. Turns out, we actually know the history of Christmas, and the timing, which is why we talk about it being the time of year we celebrate Jesus’ birth. Enough with the smug condescension already. Thank you.
As to the real meaning of Christmas, it easy to understand why Charlie Brown was confused. There is ton of effort to call it everything except what it is. Christmas’ real meaning is usually postulated along the vague lines of being thoughtful, giving gifts, family togetherness, a general benevolence. Each one is dramatically stated to be the real meaning of Christmas. These are all wonderful, but no, they are not the real meaning.
Frankly, it’s kind of a lot of effort to go through when the actual reason for Christmas just stares slap in the face. So let’s just swing the scythe through all the dense overgrowth of weedy nonsense and get to the actual “real meaning of Christmas.”
Unparallel-able act of love
The bottom line: Christmas is a celebration of the one true God leaving eternity and tucking himself into the flesh of a man to save all mankind — an act of sacrificial love both unparalleled and unparallel-able.
Why? God is defined as always having been and always will be. No beginning. No end. He existed before material creation (where did that infinitely dense mass that exploded at the Big Bang exist if all of time and matter consisted within it?) and he will exist after material creation in whatever iterations there may be.
God, consisting of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, is spirit by biblical description. He is often described as abiding in the spiritual realm, but I rather more think he is the spiritual realm.
Mankind screwed up creation with unending torrents of sin. Still do. Christmas celebrates the moment at which the world began to inexorably change forever. Eternally. The birth of Christ began the chain of events that included his perfect, sinless life, his teaching of the kingdom of God, his unjust crucifixion and his ultimately striking down death by rising from the grave to return to the spiritual.
Christ built the bridge over an uncrossable chasm. The construction launched with his birth and it is eminently worth celebrating with great joy and hope.
So as we all watch and see and hear the platitudes about the real meaning of Christmas, remember there is only one right answer. The remembrance and celebration of God changing history through the greatest of all acts of sacrificial love.
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.
“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
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