Christmas drops a tantalizing hint of a solution to the world’s ills, as the good side of us gets a chance to shine. But a couple of days later we’re back in the real world again, with our political masters up to their usual shenanigans, inflation taking a chunk out of our pocket money, and the usual stress on our mental well being when faced with the lunacy of evil. And our poor kids too, with what they have to put up with from the latest fads being taught at school.
Christmas so far, then, has offered no solution to such pressing problems as poverty, loneliness, suicidal thoughts, or divisions between families and races. And in the rush and pressure to buy gifts, entertain, and make it a day to remember for the kids, when is there time to even question why we put so much effort and money into Christmas when it has so little to offer?
Perhaps it goes back to its origin. It’s well known that Christmas was pinched from the old pagan worship of the Roman agricultural god Saturn with its traditions of evergreen wreaths, ornaments on trees, candle lighting, gift-giving, season’s greetings, feasting, family gatherings, and decorating homes. Interesting, then, how all that has carried through to today – but for the same reason, to create a pleasant and fun break from routine. As best selling historian Kenneth C. Davis wryly observed,“Christmas is really about bringing out your inner pagan.” Funny or insulting his summary may be, but what else can one say about Christmas today?
Well, one could say, “Christmas is really about bringing out your inner Jesus,” because just after Jesus was born an angel announced in Luke 2:14 that Jesus’ birth would begin a new era of peace, confirmed later by Jesus himself in John 14:27 when he said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.”
It was his peace, note, not “as the world gives” that offers peace and goodwill through largely pagan and corporate rituals. He promised a peace that no outside forces or man-made rituals are the cause of, nor are they needed. Because he gives us a peace that “transcends all understanding.” It’s beyond anything we can come up with – and it goes deep inside us too, to “guard our hearts and minds,” Philippians 4:7.
Imagine, then, if Christmas was all about bringing that out in us, this amazing inner peace made possible for us by Jesus’ birth. Would Christmas in that case, then, offer us a solution to the world’s problems?