Friday, December 25, 2009

A Christmas Reflection

Christmas Day has visited us again.It is interesting that Christmas, the day that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, has joined that select two or three Holidays in the course of the year ( Thanksgiving and New Years are two others that come to mind) where retail life comes to a virtual standstill ---except for the NBA and the ubiquitous Chines restaurant. Christmas is as secular a Holiday as we have in modern day America. This Holiday, embraced by almost all, is of recent vintage however.

Christmas wasn't institutionalized as a Church Feast until the mid 4th Century. Even then, the major Feast celebrated was the Feast of the Epiphany ---the Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist--- commemorated on January 6. The celebration of Christmas was banned by the British Parliament in 1647 and even though the celebration was restored by Charles II in 1660, the Presbyterian Church of Scotland continued to discourage celebrating the Feast. This antipathy carried over to the British colonies in the New World. The celebration of Christmas was actually banned in Boston from 1659-1681. The venerable George Washington led his troops in an attack on the Hessian troops at the Battle of Trenton 1777. These historical tid-bits add to my amusement at some of the current arguments about whether we are taking Christ out of Christmas in our modern world.

One of the most common images of the Nativity is the manger scene, the "babe in swaddling clothes". While this imagery is accurate, I believe that too much of a focus on " the baby Jesus" almost softens the awesomeness of this Feast.

We Christians believe, that this Jesus, born in Bethlehem is the Son of God, the Word of God, through whom all of creation was made. How awesome is that!!! John, in his Gospel says it this way:

[1] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
[2] The same was in the beginning with God.
[3] All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
[4] In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

This same Jesus we so sentimentally think of as the "babe in the manger" was with God the Father before the Creation of the world. This Word of God spoke with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the Book of Genesis. Gave the Law to Moses and spoke with David as well as the Prophets. The mere thought of the Word of God taking on flesh and becoming like us is incomprehensible, ineffable, inconceivable. It's almost too much to take in . As presents our opened and greetings of the season are exchanged the "big picture" of the Feast is worth a quiet reflection.

1 comment:

Bruce Bergwall said...

Phil - well done. Just trying to get one's head around the fact that Jesus, the one who actually created the Universe - and every cell in every living thing - would leave the glory of heaven to be born by a teenager into poverty, is overwhelming. Remembering His gift of Himself to us for our salvation as a secular holiday seems so inappropriate and Perhaps there is a reason Christmas is not a festival in the Bible but a creation of man.