The sacred meaning of the Feast of the Nativity has long since been relegated by our culture as an aside, an optional ritual. For many this is the only time of the year they go to church. Sometimes it is only to keep peace with the old folks and stay in good graces for the important part of Christmas: opening the gifts. Children are better acquainted with the completely fictional and inherently un-Christian story of Santa than that of Jesus. Many calling themselves Christians lament this neglect of religious meaning and some go so far as to identify a “war on Christmas.”
But the appearance of the baby Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem is God’s message that the war is over. The sense of persecution many Christians feel in the United States is mostly manufactured, at times deserved, but Christians might remember that Herod waged war on the first Christmas and was unsuccessful, not because Mary and Joseph counted on a secular government to protect them, but because God’s intention cannot be thwarted by human will. Isaiah warned against relying on Egypt for protection, to no avail.
Do not condemn your brothers and sisters who celebrate Christmas differently than you do. If a soul drowning in a sea of materialism is drawn to the sacred one time per year, it is better than never. As Christians we should be the star that points outsiders to the Christ child, the angels announcing a message of great joy to all the people. God sent the Christ child to declare peace. His followers must be identified by living that peace in the same way Christ did.
I wish a blessed Christmas to everyone reading this. That is a heartfelt wish that you experience peace and joy, whether you celebrate Christmas or not.
“I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – Jesus (John 13:34-35)