What of Christmas? What are we to make of it:
- A time of gratefulness
- A time for celebration
- A time for being extra generous
- A time for merry-making, for parties for shopping and giving gifts?
It’s up to you. It seems once a season, I hear someone—Christian or non-Christian—(yes, some Christians don’t celebrate Christmas) grumble that making such a big deal on December 25 when we don’t have certain knowledge of the date of the birth of the Messiah Christ. Since we haven’t used the same calendar as the Jews of Jesus’ time (ever), it’s a moot point.
I have celebrated Christmas all over the place: near the Tropic of Cancer, at the Equator, in the frigid North where it was below zero degrees F, and at hot and coastal places; in the city, in the suburbs and the country. Sun, frost, rain, sleet, snow have made an appearance in my decades of Christmas all over the world. No matter where and no matter what weather, there is something cheerful, and a bit extravagant (festive?) about setting aside a special day for the long-awaited Messiah, the King of the Jews.
Some people add a special touch to the day by making a “birthday” cakes for Jesus (decorated) at Christmastime but that seems odd since most Easterners give gifts on their birthdays. The tradition of giving gifts is a Godlike thing to do: after all, remember that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
He gave, and gave, and keeps giving today. There is a generous liberality to God’s giving that will and can never be matched by anyone on earth. Someone recently reminded me that Jesus in his earthly ministry, went around healing many—not limiting his healing to people who were his disciples, but healing the sick and the hopeless without a bar. No repayment needed, no bribes, no need for any of that when you are God—the fount of wholeness.
As we begin a quick slide to the shortest day of the year north of the equator, which will be followed by Christmas—a day of generosity and rejoicing—I think of the liberality of God–His care, tenderness, expansiveness, matched by His ability and resources to care, restore and give wholeness. No one is so far from God that he is hopeless. GK Chesterton pointed to the simple logic for simple men behind celebrating Christ’s birth on this dark, short day (if you’re in the north) in December, reiterating for us the liberality of God:
“… Christ is not merely a summer sun of the prosperous but a winter fire for the unfortunate.”