Saturday, December 11, 2010

Got Christmas?


What is Christmas about?
Christmas is about tradition. The things we were raised doing, we want to keep doing. And Christmas is one of the main times of year to keep old traditions alive that have survived at least thirty years or so. What is your Christmas about? Check the items below that apply to you:

 Giving gifts
 Spending time with family
 Lying to children about Santa Claus
 Spending time under the mistletoe
 Setting up decorations
 Getting drunk
 Hopping from free meal to free meal
 Arguing with friends and family
 Catching Miracle on 34th Street for the twentieth time
 Singing a mix of old hymns and silly songs
 Avoiding family
 Eating meat and stuffing until you throw up
 Spending time in the mall with thousands of others
 Listening to Christmas music until you throw up
 Watching A Charlie Brown Christmas for the fiftieth time
 Receiving gifts
 Returning gifts at the mall with thousands of others

Unfortunately, none of these things get to the heart of Christmas. They are all substitutes of the real focus of the festival. Once you dispense with this list, what is left of your Christmas? Watching re-runs of the Simpsons? Being morose because your Christmas doesn’t match up to your expectations? Or just being depressed in general, for no particular reason?

Christmas seems so important, such a significant part of our year, that it must be about something important. Of course, we all know that Christmas is supposed to be about Jesus. But that’s hard for us to really make practical as a holiday or feast. Or even to get our heads around. Jesus was a cool guy. And he taught some good things—most of which we can’t remember right now (too much egg nog, probably). But why is Christmas about him?

The Christmas Story
Well, part of Christmas is the Christmas story. Just in case you weren’t sure, the story isn’t A Christmas Carol. It’s about Jesus. Does Mary, Joseph, angels, shepherds, wise men ring a bell? Yeah, that’s the Christmas story. Well, what is that story about, anyway? Most of us know about the “peace on earth” part. But how do we get peace on earth?

The interesting thing is that the Christmas story doesn’t give us a strictly religious answer, like what we’d expect from the Bible. Instead, it gives us a political answer. That’s right, the Christmas story is about politics. It is propaganda about the kind of political system it thinks would be best. (Propaganda isn’t always bad, you know—it depends on whether it’s true and beneficial to everyone or not.) And the politics the Christmas story is recommending is to have the right ruler, the right government, and then you can have peace. That’s really not that different from an election year, really.

So what kind of ruler can give us peace? According to the Christmas story, it’s got to be somebody who knows what it’s like to be poor. At the same time, it’s got to be somebody who has authority. It’s got to be somebody who cares about the needs of the poor. But it’s still somebody who could capture the interest of the wise and wealthy. But most of all, it’s somebody who really upsets the status quo politics that makes everyone’s lives miserable. That’s why Jesus is uniquely qualified to be ruler of the world.

Jesus was born in poverty, and lived among people who had next to nothing. He drew to himself shepherds, who were rejected by “proper” society. Jesus’ mother sang a song about unimportant people ruling over everyone else. Yet Jesus drew magi more than a thousand miles—walking—to himself with rich gifts. At the same time, he had the current rival king so upset at him, that the king killed a village of babies and toddlers to get rid of him. At the same time, Jesus grew to establish laws that would benefit everyone that lived within his kingdom.

On top of all this, he received authority. He had the right to be in charge. God told everyone that Jesus was the one in charge, and that they needed to listen to him. Most people didn’t listen to God, but what else is new? Jesus still had the right to rule.

Choose Jesus as King of the World!
So why didn’t Jesus rule? Why isn’t he in charge of the world right now? Because he wants to give everyone a chance to choose him, first. (What other dictator would do that?) You see Christmas isn’t so much a holiday or gift-giving opportunity as an election. Jesus is presenting himself as a candidate for office. He want you to elect him. His platform is peace on earth and benefits for everyone who chooses him. What kind of benefits? Forgiveness of sins. The possibility of both receiving and giving love. Being content with your circumstances. Having your needs met. A life without suffering. Some pretty unbelievable campaign promises—but Jesus has a track record. Thousands, even millions of people have experienced Jesus’ kind of living. And it works, it really can give one peace.

Get Christmas
So have you really got Christmas? It’s simple—is Jesus your king, your Lord? If you live having Jesus as your ruler, then you can experience what Christmas is really about. So how do we do that?

Read the gospels to find out what Jesus is really like. (You can start with any of them—Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. Just skip the lists of names in Matthew or Luke). If the reading is too tough, then you can ask a pastor what it means to have Jesus as king (That’s what a pastor does, you know—he reads the Bible to explain it to those of us who can’t make heads or tails of it. If you don’t know a pastor you can call the phone number below.). Look at what Jesus is promising if he does rule. Look at what Jesus is demanding to see if you really want him to rule.

If you are ready, then accept Jesus as your Lord. You can pray to him, “Jesus I choose you as my King and Lord.” Or you can go to a church to get baptized (that’s the initiation ritual). Then you’ll really have Christmas. And a whole lot more.

Get Peace.
Get Jesus.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

A Holiday Thought...

Aren't humans amazing? They kill wildlife - birds, deer, all kinds of cats, coyotes, beavers, groundhogs, mice and foxes by the million in order to protect their domestic animals and their feed.

Then they kill domestic animals by the billion and eat them. This in turn kills people by the million, because eating all those animals leads to degenerative - and fatal - health conditions like heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and cancer.

So then humans spend billions of dollars torturing and killing millions more animals to look for cures for these diseases.

Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being used to fatten domestic animals.

Meanwhile, few people recognize the absurdity of humans, who kill so easily and violently, and once a year send out cards praying for "Peace on Earth."

~Revised Preface to Old MacDonald's Factory Farm by C. David Coates~

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Anyone can break this cycle of violence! Everyone has the power to choose compassion! Please visit these websites to align your core values with life affirming choices: http://veganvideo.org & http://tryveg.com


"Any great change must expect opposition because it shakes the very foundation of privilege."
Lucretia Coffin Mott, 1793-1880, minister, women's rights leader, abolitionist, peace activist, humanitarian

Steve Kimes said...

I deeply respect a vegetarian standpoint, because although I believe it is morally unnecessary, I think it is a moral high ground that some may take. And certainly the current meat industry is not doing anyone any good. Factory meat, in general, is poor care of the earth or humanity.

However, I feel the vegan viewpoint is morally unnecessary and I have never understood it. Why is eating eggs or dairy products worse than eating grains?