Hello again, dear courteous reader! It’s good to be able to write again after almost three months without a single post.
I hate to tell you this, but Christmas does already seem to fade away. The Christmas trees have been dismantled, the carols deleted from playlist. Where has the baby gone?
It is barely a month and the baby no longer occupies my mind. Heck, even other people stops talking about Christmas. Conversations are being dominated by dropping oil price, threatened Schengen, East Coast blizzard, Davos 2016, or other “current affairs”. The department store decors are changed, too. There’s no red-white-green theme anymore; it is all red and gold, in anticipation of the Chinese New Year. Christmas no longer sells.
So it makes me wonder, is this all what Christmas has to offer? Two weeks—maybe three, four at best—of festivities, of frantic shopping? Mistletoe and leftover food?
I look up on the Internet and there are numerous articles on the true meaning of Christmas. I read themselves and find them to be not so appealing. Sure, theologically speaking, Christmas is so much more than sales and carols. But somehow I don’t get the point of celebrating it. I mean, why celebrate the birth of a baby? Yes, the birth of a baby is a nice thing to behold, but what’s so amazing about it?
That birth should be celebrated because due to circumstances on that silent night, everybody can relate themselves to baby Jesus. Born in a manger to an almost-unknown couple, even those in the lowest rung of social ladder will feel touched by the relevancy. But surely this is not all about feel-good social divide? There must be more to this birth.
That birth should be celebrated because it was the birth of a Savior, the coming of a Redeemer to our temporal and imperfect world, they say. Well yes, but then Good Friday should be the one to be celebrated more than Christmas. THAT is the actual moment when we humans are redeemed. But we don’t celebrate Easter with the same enthusiasm as we do Christmas, do we? So what’s so amazing about Christmas?
Not to negate the points I have brought above, but I don’t think Christmas is that amazing. Those points hold true. Somehow I just don’t get it. No, I don’t.
Now, recollecting that moment we can repress the joy, but the guilt remains conscious; remembering the stable where for once in our lives everything became a You and nothing was an It. And craving the sensation but ignoring the cause, we look round for something, no matter what, to inhibit our self-reflection, and the obvious thing for that purpose would be some great suffering. So, once we have met the Son, we are tempted ever after to pray to the Father; “Lead us into temptation and evil for our sake.” They will come, all right, don’t worry; probably in a form that we do not expect, and certainly with a force more dreadful than we can imagine. In the meantime there are bills to be paid, machines to keep in repair, irregular verbs to learn, the Time Being to redeem from insignificance.
Wystan H. Auden, For The Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio
But then I think again.
Imagine telling “Christmas is not so amazing” to the ones whose lives have been touched and changed by this man. Imagine telling it to blind Bartimaeus. To Jairus. To Lazarus. I imagine they would be quick to tell their story.
Tell it to the ones who witnessed the event themselves. To the shepherds. To the Magi. These men, whose names we don’t even know, have seen more than just an ordinary baby. They have seen angels and heavenly host and a star that stopped moving.
Try telling it to they who have been sinful but left it behind because this man came into their lives. Tell it to Zacchaeus. To the repenting criminal at Calvary. To Paul. In short, tell it to the men and women who will burst to cry at the very reading of the line “for unto us a child is born”.
And then there’s the disciples. Try asking these men, who have seen so many things done by Him, what Christmas is really about. Even imagining the answer myself sends shiver down my spine.
Then ask it to yourself. Not what theology has told you, no. Doctrines aside, answer it in relation to what He has done in your personal life, because apparently it is he/she whose life has been changed through the birth of Christ who will appreciate Christmas better.
I am none the wiser here, so I’ll be honest: my answer would be another cliché. I pray that tomorrow will bring less cliché and more splendor. I pray that the baby will be born and grow up and bring more miracle to this life, sooner rather than later.
Merry amazing Christmas, dear reader.
Continually cultivate a sense of amazement that in spite of all your sins God has forgiven you through Christ. Be amazed that you have peace with God. It’s this sense of amazement, that I, a sinner, have peace with God, that makes the heart tender, kind and forgiving. Extend this to others seventy times seven.
John S. Piper