Merry Christmas, readers.
We can say that here. We should be saying it everywhere. Jesus, the guy whose birth we’re celebrating (actually, tradition holds that he was born in the spring) said so. We should be defying those who tell us to clam up about Jesus, even on Christmas. You know what Jesus had to say about that:
Matthew 10:33: “Whosoever shall deny me before men him will I also deny before my father in heaven.”
We’ve been given a gift whose only condition is to spread the good news to others. What is the good news? Evangelium “Good messenger.” That we are free from our slavery in sin. But at a very high cost, one which most people are too ashamed to admit their own humiliation and stop their ears up at the mention of the name of Jesus Christ. The more His name is banished, the farther we slip into that pit. But He said he would march to the very gates of Hell to free us. That was the news a little over 2,000 years ago.
Luke 2: “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will towards men.’”
Did Jesus give something to men that they didn’t want? They’ve certainly spent the last 2,000 years or so trying to give the gift of peace back, or regifting it as the secular Peace Movement. Some people, usually young people, try to take up the message and state solemnly, “I wish for peace on Earth.”
A wish is not a prayer. Peace doesn’t happen by magic or wishful thinking. Love isn’t a Mercedes Benz wrapped up in an enormous red Christmas bow. That sort of Christmas is for children and rich people.
What do you get the older, wealthier brother who has everything, including a late-model Cadillac (which he bought new)? A fifty-cent refrigerator magnet that reads: “Proud servant of my corporate master.” It made him laugh. Laughter is worth more than all the beribboned Cadillacs parked end-to-end from the South Pole to the North.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses consider Christmas to be a pagan holiday. They are highly critical of Constantine, who stopped the persecution of Christians, having been raised by a Christian mother (St. Helena). He allowed the pagans to transform their pagan idols into Christian symbols.
I don’t know. I don’t have a problem with that, personally. Jesus, the humble son of God probably wouldn’t approve of our celebrating His birth on any day on the calendar. I have more of a problem with ornate churches being built over the sites of his birth and crucifixion. Why weren’t these places left in their original state? That would have been more of a tribute to the babe born in a manger.
The Witnesses did answer one question that had always puzzled me (actually, they’ve enlightened me on a number of enigmas). Why did Jesus wash his disciples’ feet? I know the traditional answer is that before you can serve, you must be a servant. That was the answer of Jesus himself.
No, but wait. That wasn’t what I wanted to know. Why wash the feet? What was the symbolism in the feet?
Jehovah Witness G. is also a gardener of sorts. “Well, you know,” she said, “it’s like when you repot a plant. You remove it out of the planter. You throw away the old soil and replace it with new soil. Then you wash the roots thoroughly and replant it in the new soil, and it blooms all beautiful, like it was new.”
No, I didn’t know. I vaguely recall my mother, years ago, explaining about washing the roots of the plant before repotting it. But I hadn’t made the biblical connection. Jesus is coming to repot us in fresh soil. We have to wash all the old contaminants off our roots and store up fresh soil for the replanting.
We’re going to be transplanted into God’s garden, if our roots haven’t all rotted away. I remember my mother rescuing some pretty far-gone plants and restoring them to health and vigor.
Maybe Jesus wasn’t born on December 25. But even if it was originally a pagan holiday, like everything else, the day was transformed. The third day past the longest day of the year, hope is reborn and we’re traveling back towards the light.
We hang lights on our Christmas trees symbolically, replacing bulbs that burn out. This is one light that will never burn out. The gifts have been purchased and now opened. The dinner has been made (best sweet potatoes yet), the dishes washed, and the cat fed. The Christmas blog is written and about to be posted. What a novelty, having dinner at 3 instead of 6. Now I can go rest my back.