What is Christmas?
Posted: Thursday, December 23, 2010 11:57 am
The Messenger, December 23, 2010
By members of Obion County Ministerial Association
What is Christmas to you? I remember when Christmas never seemed to arrive. It was the long-awaited holiday of decorations and cakes and candies and candles and … gifts. It was the season of family and friends and fun … gifts. But it took forever to arrive.
Writer and thinker Anais Nain noted that we do not see things as they are, but we see things as we are. Children are impatient and have little understanding of time, as they have never experienced the longitude of time, so it takes forever to come round to special days. For those of us who have sped round the sun a few turns, it seems as if time speeds and speeds until it reaches terrifyingly dizzy velocity.
The shepherds in the fields near Bethlehem saw Christmas as a glorious, wondrous gift. They heard the song of angels, saw the lights of heaven, felt the warmth of the unspeakable love of God. They were not afraid to leave their “bovine charges,” the sheep which were their livelihood, to go to see this wondrous thing which had come to pass. Risking everything, they went to claim, or at last behold, a treasure beyond imagination. And they shared, like wild and crazed people, what they had beheld, as Luke (2:20) tells us, “And the shepherds returned glorifying God and praising Him for all they had seen and heard ….”
Where were the others of the towns and fields? They saw the birth of another squalling baby of immigrant pauper parents as just another mouth to feed, another trouble maker to control, another job taken by an untutored day laborer.
How do we see Christmas today? If we see it not as it was but as we are, perhaps how we see Christmas will tell us a bit about how we see ourselves and our relationship with God, our environment and each other. Is it busy, a chore or hassle? Is it what we get or what we must give? Are we glad when the rush is over and the tree goes out with the next morning’s trash? Is it the time we must rethink the budget and muddle over monetary mania? Or has it become a soul comfort, the warmth of the reflected fires of God’s tender love and eternal mercy within us and particularly and especially through us to the least of these our brothers and sisters?
The Reverend Don Brooks
Rector, St. James’ Episcopal Church
422 East Church St., Union City, TN