Friday, December 29, 2017

What makes your Christmas?

"Madonna and Child" Edward Riojas.
1998. (Collection of the artist)
Copyright © Edward Riojas
Copyright © Edward Riojas

A caller informed the radio DJ, “It isn’t Christmas unless I make banket.”

That was one reaction when a local [Christian] radio station fielded the question, “What one thing ‘makes’ your Christmas?,” and there followed all manner of warm and fuzzy traditions that, apparently, make the season bright. It was rather sad that most callers danced around the obvious. Whether we care to admit it, however, most of us have a similar list of ingredients. Things like “family,” “music,” and “presents” usually find their way into the recipe. Personally, I could throttle all those who prayed so earnestly for a “white Christmas.”

While I can be as sentimental as the next guy, it’s irritating that we put strings on Christmas. It’s aggravating that we feel the need to feed our emotions, and work ourselves up to some euphoric plateau we think worthy of the Holy Day. Christmas, however, comes whether we feel it or not. Christmas is not a state of mind. Most of the time, Christmas is definitely not in our hearts. Claiming that Christmas is in our hearts belies the reality of Jesus’ birth, and is contrary to Holy Scripture.

“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive Him.” –  John 1:10-11

The simple fact that there was no room for them should give a clue to how much of the Christ was in the hearts of those so near to the first Christmas. Add to that a cranky, self-absorbed ruler who took offense when another king was born, and it’s obvious that many people didn’t want Him. At all.

But still He came.

Even later, when the ruler of the universe revealed His own identity, few wanted Him. Most were not getting warm and fuzzy inside. Jesus was not wanted – not THIS Jesus, anyway. Oh, sure, crowds fed their emotions, and worked themselves up to a plateau of hatred and disgust. They had so much Christmas in their hearts that they nailed Jesus to a tree. The all-knowing God knew this would happen.

And still He came.

That Christ Jesus, knowing beforehand what He must go through to save us; that He, the ruler of the cosmos and only God, descended from His royal throne for the sake of undeserving man, shows the everlasting, perfect love of our dear Lord.

It doesn’t really matter if there is banket or snow or even family for Christmas. It doesn’t matter if your tree is real or fake or if there aren’t any presents under it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a tree at all. It doesn’t matter if you feel alone or if you feel like trash. Christ came for you. Christ came for me. That, in essence, is what makes Christmas.

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