Hey guys, Kimberly here. I’m one of the editors for the WOJ blog, and something occurred to me the other day:
Christmas doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone.
I know, I know. Should be obvious.
But I always get stuck on thinking that everyone thinks, talks, and acts like me. When I’m exercising regularly and eating right, I think most people also prefer to eat right and exercise.
When I’m going through a blockbuster-movie binge when all I want to do is watch Pirates of the Caribbean 8 and Fast and Furious 20, I assume everyone else will have seen them each five times.
So the sudden revelation that not everyone looks at Christmas the same way was–well, a revelation. I wanted to bounce it off a few people to see what they thought. And since WOJ is all about opening up a conversation about the whole Jesus thing, I thought I’d ask our writers to share what Christmas means for them.
I asked them each for a paragraph–which, if you’ve been reading our blog for any amount of time at all, you’ll quickly recognize as folly. What can any of us possibly say in one paragraph–and especially about Christmas?!
So anyway. Here is a little on the meaning of Christmas, from four of our excellent writers. And may you have a Christmas that fulfills the hollow spots within you and keeps you warm–today and far into the future.
As a young atheist I hated both the consumerism and the religious sentimentality of Christmas. Becoming a Christian, if anything, then reinforced that view, and I railed against Christmas for many years, much to my wife’s chagrin!
But I’ve gradually realised that the real reason for my dislike of Christmas probably has a far more sub-conscious origin based in unhappy childhood memories (see My Life’s Soundtrack), and now with 3 kids of my own, aged between 15 and 2, I’ve lightened up in my attitude towards Christmas out of neccessity.
But more than that, reflecting on the true light coming into the world has genuinely given me hope for change in my own life.
My Christmas story, from cynicism and scepticism to celebration, is told in a little more detail in ‘Christmas is for Life’. Hope you enjoy reading it.
Christmas means that I do not have to be perfect.
Though I am relentless on myself at making everything perfect,t is not what God requires of me and Christmas reminds me of that.
When I think about the story of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus–that was anything but perfect. Mary was a very young teenager who found herself pregnant outside the bonds of marriage and carrying a boy that was not the son of her fiancé. As my pastor said Sunday, “You could be stoned for a lot less in Palestine during that time.”
Then we have the night of the birth. If what my friends say when it comes to the ninth month of pregnancy is true,I am sure that riding a donkey is not at the top of the list of fun activities to do. To top that Mary and Joseph could find ‘no room in the inn.’
When Mary gave birth to her son she did so in an unsanitary barn that you know smelled something awful. She then laid him in the only place she could–a feeding trough for animals.
Jesus’ birth, the reason for Christmas,was a less-than-perfect situation. If God can be in that messy (birth is messy) situation he can be in mine. Christmas means that even in my imperfect situation God is there and working through me.
May you have a Merry but less than perfect Christmas and know that God is with you.
One of our editors asked the question: “What does Christmas mean to you?”
One of the first things that came to mind for me was: peace on earth.
Jesus has been called the “Prince of Peace“, and in his “Sermon on the Mount”, he says in Matthew 5:9:
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
It is almost as if he’s saying that being a peacemaker is a prerequisite for being a child of God. Indeed, he repeats this theme in Matthew 5:44-45 when he follows the command to love enemies with an indication that this is what it takes to be children of the Father in heaven.
Peace is a dangerous thing. Dangerous to the authority structures that create systems of domination, and defying them can be dangerous to ourselves as well.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer – a pastor in Germany during World War II who was martyred for standing up to the Nazis in the name of peace – once wrote:
There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared, it is itself the great venture and can never be safe. Peace is the opposite of security. To demand guarantees is to want to protect oneself. Peace means giving oneself completely to God’s commandment, wanting no security, but in faith and obedience laying the destiny of the nations in the hand of Almighty God, not trying to direct it for selfish purposes. Battles are won, not with weapons, but with God. They are won when the way leads to the cross.
How can we wage peace in 2013? How can we threaten the authority structures of today with radical love?
Stay tuned for more from Geoff in his full post, later today.
Christmas is many things to me. Not just because of my beliefs, the things that happened to me during this time because of those beliefs, and what I have seen Christmas become to others.
The first thing Christmas is for me, is a time of mourning to an extent. You see, my dad passed away around Christmas when I was seventeen. So, while I love this season, I also feel a bit grieved in my heart because of the loss.
The next thing that Christmas is to me is a time of healing. This does have a bit to do with my religious beliefs, yes, but it also has to do with my dad passing away around this time. He was very sick, and, to me, death is not the end, but a passing on, a rebirth, and an ultimate healing.
Christmas is a time of rebirth to me for many reasons.
It is a time of rebirth to me because of the birth of the Messiah, and the Pagan traditions that celebrated this sacred season for many many years before the birth of Christianity. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, yes, but I also realize that this season is celebrated as it is because of it being adopted from the Pagans by Christians about 200 years after the birth of Christ. My theory and hope is that Christmas was adopted at this time because of the rebirth of the sun that the Pagans celebrated at this time as well.
This is Christmas to me- a time of kindness, love, healing, rebirth, renewal, and good tidings.
If you enjoyed our authors’ perspectives, please share with friends.