I grew up celebrating Christmas and honestly and barely a clue, if any at all, what a majority of spiritual Christmas songs meant. Yes, you read it right. Sorry people, Christmas is not an exclusively Christian holiday…deal with it. The idea of this time of year holding special meaning goes centuries if not millennia before the birth of Jesus due to the winter solstice and cultures that have celebrated or ascribed a special meaning to it can be found almost everywhere on Earth. Also, it is actually possible to celebrate this time of year without being religious.
I was almost twenty before I understood anything about baby Jesus being more than the chipped little ceramic figurine in the Nativity set my grandma made. How all that happened is perhaps a story for another time but I now know that the reason Christians are supposed to celebrate this time of year is because of the belief that God became human. Not only that but God became a baby. This, that God became a baby, is the one part too many religious people seem to forget but I believe it is the most important aspect of the Christmas story.
Contrary to what the lyrics of several Christmas songs such as “Silent Night” or “Little Drummer Boy” there is no evidence that baby Jesus was any different from every other baby born ever. The night he was born was probably not any more silent than any other night a baby is born. Neither is it very likely that he could nod his head in response to a boy playing music. Babies cry, scream & poop therefore Christians are supposed to believe that baby Jesus cried, screamed and pooped but a majority of people I have personally come across really don’t seem to stop and think about this and what it means.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
Linus Van Pelt, “A Charlie Brown Christmas”
(Luke 2:9-14 KJV)
As a Christian I believe that Jesus was both God and human. More importantly, God became a flawed, broken baby totally dependent on others for everything. No, I have no idea how that could happen and I’m not going to go all sorts of stupid trying to co-opt concepts from quantum physics that I could ever even begin to grasp an understanding beyond what I learn from a Dr. Brian Greene or Dr. Michio Kaku TV show. Besides, using science to prove a point of faith that can’t be proven is pointless because if something can be proven then faith is not needed.
Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen.
(Hebrews 11:1 ASV)
I think one of the most amazing aspects of the Christmas season is the wonderment of children who, even though they don’t realize it, exhibit without reason or understanding what this time of year is about: Hope This is not some wishy washy ”oh I would really like for this to happen” sort of hope like “I hope the mail is here.” This is an unwavering, uncontrolled, and unrestrained hope. Hope for new beginnings. Hope that the impossible dreams of generations past comes to pass in the current one. Hope that peace not only CAN happen but that it WILL happen. A hope that people will begin to love each other not only as they love themselves but more than they love themselves. This kind of hope can be found in the lyrics of the song “The Rebel Jesus.” They can be found in the song “O Holy Night.”
Truly He taught us to love one another;His law is love and His gospel is peace.Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;And in His name all oppression shall cease.
This is the true meaning of Christmas. Not greed, not power, not hate or anger. Not selfish pride or arrogantly thinking that some people are better than others because of how they look, think, feel, act or belive. It is not about Western culture being better or superior to all others. The idea that what is being truly celebrated is an idea of hope, peace & love that can be found in the person of Jesus as he really was/is and not the disfigured, distorted and just plain wrong way too many religious people talk about him and end up giving others the idea that what he was all about was money & power. The reality is quite opposite of what has been presented for too long.
So many Christmas songs seem to have the theme of wishing that everyday could be like Christmas. My question is why can’t it be? I think the answer is simple. We don’t really want it to be. We are afraid of hope. We get let down so often that we forget what real hope is like. We become unchildlike. We choose to believe in what we label as reasonable instead of believing that it is not reasonable to believe in such hope is, well, hopeless. However, too many of us who do want to believe in hope like a child does do nothing more than imagine what the world would be like if people loved each other more and that oppression could end. The hard, cold, ugly truth about doing nothing more than imagine a better world is that we are the ones who choose to give up on this kind of hope. I believe that once someone finds that kind of hope, regardless of age, no one can take it away from you unless you allow them too.
“I raise my voice not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard”
― Malala Yousafzai