Christmas! We can see it on the horizon, the tree is up, the cookies are frosted, gifts are wrapped, and visions of sugar plums dance in our heads. When did Christmas become more about Amazon Prime delivering on time than a baby born in a stable, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger?
Biblical historians have determined it likely Yeshua (Jesus) was born in the spring, not in December. Most of what Christians believe to be traditional Christmas activities are rooted in pagan celebrations; primarily the winter solstice and the Roman festival Saturnalia. In the 4th century CE, Christian leaders made a concerted effort to convert the pagans and ban their pagan customs and then transposed many of the festivities of Saturnalia onto the made-up Christmas holiday. And, long before that many of the Christmas traditions practiced today were part of the Druid pagan rituals.
I am not religious by any means and don’t believe the Bible to be the inerrant Word of God. I am spiritual; there’s a difference. Let’s face it, mankind has massaged, embellished, and interpreted the ancient writings so many times over I doubt what we read today has any likeness to the reality. I tend to rely more on historical evidence than poetic interpretation, and even that may be embellished to one degree or another. We don’t know for sure because none of us was there. But, all of that is beside the point. There are still lessons to be learned, wisdom to be gleaned from the Bible and the Christmas story.
I do believe God came to earth dressed in the clothes of humanity and lived within the created world. Was he born in a stable and laid in a manger because there was no room at the inn? Did he come to earth to ‘save’ mankind from their sins? That is a matter of personal belief. But we can still incorporate the lessons from the Christmas story into our lives.
What bits of wisdom can we glean from the Christmas story?
- Mary said ‘yes’ when it would have been easier to say ‘no’
- Sometimes we stand by another because it’s the right thing to do, even when we don’t agree
- There is always light to guide us through our darkest night
- A room at the inn isn’t as important as room in our hearts
- Humble beginnings are not necessarily indicative of the outcome
- Miracles do happen: For God so loved the world, He chose to dwell among us
Merry Christmas – in whatever way or tradition you choose to celebrate!