The glad, mad and sad of Christmas

The birth of Jesus changed the world forever, Christmas being just one proof of it. Before Jesus came there was no such thing as Christmas, which isn’t surprising, because there was nothing to celebrate. For thousands of years the world careened from one violent, destructive empire to the next, and people’s lives were ruled by an endless stream of weird gods and goddesses, every one of which was the product of human fear and imagination. The only nation that had any understanding of God and his plan was constantly being sucked into the vortex of the culture, and by the time Jesus arrived the Jewish nation was a mere puppet of the Romans, and no example to the world of what God was like or what God would do for those who trusted him.

The world should be glad, therefore, that Jesus was born, because he defeated the powers responsible for that mess and he planted the seed of a new world. It quickly spread too, and became so noticeable and so different that Christmas was created to celebrate the difference and the cause of it. That difference is still being experienced today too, in the “glad” part of Christmas that celebrates the good and lovely things of human life on this planet – family, children, laughs, surprises, and of course, food glorious food. If only the glad parts of Christmas could stay that way all year.

But the world is mad too, and it’s infected Christmas with its madness. Mesmorized and hypnotized by money and the power it has to buy things, the world carelessly risks financial collapse as debt increases – and feeding that debt is the mad frenzy of buying stuff at Christmas time. It’s difficult even catching a breath between one mad day of sales bargains and another. And unfortunately it’s the mad parts of Christmas that are becoming the norm all year.

Which brings us to the “sad” of Christmas, in its loss of innocence. The simple, gentle Christmas of old has been hijacked by profit-obsessed corporations and high pressure advertising. There’s no escape from their blatant greed and ugliness, and how guilty they make us feel if we don’t sign on to the entire Christmas package. And poor old Grandma on a pension trying to find a gift she can afford that her grandkids aren’t embarrassed by. And pity those working in retail too, who may get a breather on Christmas Day for time with their family, but that’s it. It’s sad.

But somehow Christmas lives on, despite the sadness and the madness, because what Jesus’ birth began will never die, the gladness of Christmas being the proof of it.

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