I have a pin that says “Jesus is the reason for the season!”, and I used to wear it proudly. But recently, I’ve seen some things that make me a little less likely to wear it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still want people to know I’m a Christian and I want to tell people about Jesus. I want others to remember that God so loved us that He gave us the Gift of His Son. I want people to know that God demonstrated His love and sympathy for even the poorest of humanity by having His Son born in the lowest of circumstances: unknown - a stranger in a strange city, homeless - refused the most meager of human housing and forced to lodge with animals at birth. I can imagine Bethlehem bustling with economic flurry as it’s filled to capacity with visitors drawn by the Roman census while a poor carpenter and his wife seek to find a better shelter for their newborn. I want people to know that shortly after the Magi found Jesus, bestowing Him with gifts worthy of a King, that the family fled for Egypt in order to avoid the slaughter of innocent toddlers and infants. A great and rewarding moment, acknowledging Jesus as King, followed by an attack from the Enemy.
I want people to know why I celebrate Christmas, that it’s more than gift-giving and more than gathering with family. The truth is that many of these Christmas traditions come from the pagan holiday of Saturnalia. It can be argued that the holiday’s historical origins aren’t rooted in Christ, but that the Church turned the meaning around. But the truth is: It’s good to be with family, and it’s good to show our love for each other using the different love languages, including gift-giving. That the church would hold onto the good aspects and use it to demonstrate a deeper love is a good thing.
I want people to know that Jesus is the reason I celebrate the season, but more importantly, I want them to know the reason for Jesus: man (a.k.a. – “mankind”) walked away from God, and believing that the relationship was irreparably damaged, man kept walking further from God. But God wanted man to know that no matter what we had done or would ever do, He wanted a relationship with us. He wanted us to know that we can’t make it right – it was completely beyond our ability! But God has this unearthly ability to restore things, and in that restoration to make things better. So Saturnalia has become Christmas for Christians even though it remains a “happy holiday” for the secular world.
With respect to relationships, I’ve discovered through the years that when I hit a bump in the road and get past it, that relationship is stronger than before. The trust is more sure and relationship more grounded. When I’ve messed up and acknowledged my wrong, I am able to live more rightly. Usually, this is more of a refining process than a one-time occurrence as we work our way out of bad habits and into good ones, but through each iteration, the relationship is strengthened and matured. That’s especially true in my higher-priority relationships with God, my spouse, and my family.
So back to the pin: Jesus is the reason I celebrate the season, and I want Him to be glorified by me in actions and words. But I can’t expect or force others to share my belief. The reason God sent His Son is because of our brokenness, and whether we realize it or not, we need Him. If a Jewish friend wishes me a Happy Chanukah, I will welcome his wish in the spirit that was intended. Likewise, if a person wishes me a Happy Holiday, I will be grateful for the fond intention. St. Francis is quoted with: “At all times preach the Gospel. If necessary, speak.” I think that’s a pretty good message for us all. Let’s be known for our love so that by loving, we represent the values of the Father in Heaven Who adopted us despite our special needs. Jesus isn’t just the reason for the season, He’s the reason for every day.
copyright ©2012 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)