Thursday, 22 December 2016

The true meaning of Christmas

At this time of year there is a sense of frenetic urgency to overspend and overindulge almost as if without excess Christmas would be neither festive nor joyful. I would like to remind everyone that Christmas is about the Christ. Whether you are atheist or agnostic, Christian or Muslim or Jewish or whatever, the derivative of the word 'Christmas' is 'Christ'.

The 25th day of December is associated with the birth of Christ, the son of God who was born of a virgin mother. The resonance of the idea of a Christ being is both powerful and moving. This was a man made of flesh and bones like you and I, and who was chosen by God to suffer and die. In the story of Christ we are essentially reminded that we cannot escape suffering in this life and eventually we too will die. Most importantly of all is how we emulate Jesus Christ during our lives and for all our time here on earth.

When I am faced with a challenging set of circumstances or when bad things happen to me, I recall how Jesus reacted when he was vilified, beaten, humiliated and finally, crucified. Jesus did not argue with his tormentors, nor did he instruct his followers to seek vengeance by an eye for an eye. Christ understood the futility of all earthly experience borne of hatred and anger.

The question of whether God exists will never be fully answered just as it is impossible to count the many stars in the sky. Perspective, perception, a need to believe in something, lead us to find solace in faith. But I would argue that Jesus Christ essentially wanted us to a become a better version of ourselves; more loving, more kind, more concerned for our fellow human beings, more gentle with each other. None of these attributes will help destroy the world rather it is the antonym of 'goodness' that creates war, ruins families, decimates the silver thread which connects all human beings. The greatest disservice we can do ourselves is to refuse to be what God and Jesus Christ intended.

This festive season when tempers will flare, old arguments will resurface, and evil men will continue their ascent throughout the world, please, please, please remember the real meaning of Christmas.

Peace be with you this Christmas.

A church in Buckingham, England, guarded by an ancient yew tree, symbol of transformation and which has overseen generations of lives (some English yews are thought to be 4,000 years old).
Photo copyright SvD.

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