Tomorrow billions of people (Christians and non-Christians) will celebrate or at least mark Christmas. While for many it no longer holds any real link to the birth of a child in a stable some two-thousand years ago, it does seem to bring out (however briefly) the idea of “peace on earth and goodwill to all men.”
Now to be sure, in the lead up to the day it might be hard to believe that. Supermarkets are packed, people jostling, and mall and shopping area parking chaos. People wait impatiently in cashier queues, and others “in the spirit of the season,” stop and chat blocking aisles and making the experience even more frustrating.
While God in His infinite knowledge saw all this coming, He nevertheless saw something bigger. That same “spirit” which creates the frustration, materialism, impatience and the rest in the shopping areas, was the reason for “the day.” No, not the thirst or even greed for gifts, and over indulgence, but the selfishness that underlies it all. Sin. Christmas is believe it or not about sin, as much as it is about “goodwill and peace.”
“For God so loved the world, that he sent His one and only Son.” Many people have bemoaned the decline of Christmas. That the joy of the coming of a baby in a manger is lost in all the bustle. But if we can see any redeeming value in the secular event it has become, Christmas reminds us of the need for itself.
We are as humans, prone to (and to some points of view compelled to) selfishness. Selfishness is the root of sin. Sin breaks relationship to God and our fellow men. It was that sin that that infant came into the world because. His purpose was not to gather shepherds around a manger, or wise men into the house, but to fulfill a destiny symbolised by the gift of myrrh some 30 years later. His sacrifice to atone for the broken relationship.
I am not saying we should abandon present giving, over-eating, and the rest. But when we step back from it, we can use them to restore some focus. Let us see the bad, and while recoiling from it, become even more thankful that that child was born. Face it even without “Christmas” people would still be sinful. But with Christmas, we can find real joy in knowing that that sin is not the end of the story. In this we find God’s peace to the earth, and His goodwill to men. Now that is something to really celebrate.