Scrooge notwithstanding, it’s natural to enjoy the Christmas season. At the very worst it brings out the child still buried within us. At best it fuels our spiritual existence.
It wasn’t always so. The first Christmas – the REAL Christmas was pretty much ignored by almost everyone. There were the young men – probably closer to boys – who were tending sheep out in the fields. Tending sheep is not the most intellectual stimulating endeavor, so anything to break the monotony would be a good thing. However, it’s safe to say that this was not a truly life altering experience for these shepherds since people were content to ignore Jesus until he was around thirty. If angels showed up in my general vicinity and announced a Messiah, you can bet I’d want to know where he went. However, the shepherds soon settled back into their lives and maybe all but forgot about the experience. If you’ve ever spent any time around sheep – especially Middle Eastern sheep you’d think that seeing angels would be important by comparison, but you never know.
Of course there were the Magi – the three wise men. They were probably Zoroastrians from the area that is present day Iran. They realized something significant had happened, although they didn’t understand just how significant it was. Kings were born and kings died, but here was a King who rated a celestial event; we call it a star but it may have been a comet or perhaps a supernova. At least they understood enough to saddle their camels (or whatever) and seek the King. I’m guessing they wondered whatever happened, but when an angel tells you to go home by a different route, you figure a low profile is probably in order.
The common factor here is that all of those who were exposed to Christ interpreted it in terms of an earthly perspective. Just like we often do, even today. I guess it’s only human to do so, and on one level that may be just fine. Jesus was God incarnate, with all that entails, but he was also human. So when we celebrate the human oriented side, that’s good. If we celebrate the spiritual side, that’s better. If we celebrate both, that’s best.
So nearly 2,000 years later there’s something about Christmas that puts us in a special, once a year mood. There are other holidays to enjoy, but none quite like this. So as we enter Christmas week – feel free to enjoy and celebrate.
I believe that even when diluted by the commercialism or whatever that there is such an inherent goodness that it can’t be ignored. Jesus was probably not born on December 25th. However, when we celebrate God becoming man and dwelling among us, it doesn’t have to be historically accurate. It might even be a way in which God connects with us – all of us.
So go enjoy this time of year. It’s part of the most special gift we could ever receive from the most loving being ever.