The Importance of Celebrating Christmas
At Christmas we celebrate the Nativity, or birth, of Christ. This is a world-altering event which transpired millennia ago, yet it is as pertinent today as it was then. In fact, given all the rancor, division and hatred within our society today, the remembrance and celebration of the Nativity of Christ may be more important than ever. The future of the world may very well depend upon it.
This is true, because in the Nativity of Christ, unlike any other event in human history, God intervenes in our selfish and destructive affairs. In the Nativity of Christ, God comes among us in physical form. God visibly reveals something extraordinary about God’s self. God shows us how loving, kind, generous, compassionate and merciful God is. But in the person of Jesus Christ, God shows us more than that. God also demonstrates who we can become, if we unite ourselves to God in faith.
In the person of Jesus Christ, God is certainly with us. God visibly establishes the path to the world and societal peace for which we all long. As we, like Mary, sit at the feet of Jesus, and learn how to live good lives from him, the earth will slowly transform into the Garden of harmony for which God yearns and strives. God endeavors to save the world from its destructive ways through Jesus and those who, through faith, follow him. We would not know how to follow God’s ways revealed to us in the person of Jesus, had not the Nativity of Christ taken place. Yes, remembering and celebrating Christmas is perhaps the most important thing we can possibly do.
What We Celebrate at Christmas
According to Psalm 85, as people of God, we must look past the gloom of this present darkness of hatred, animosity, division, discord, violence and cruelty to a glorious day in which the light of love will rise and transform the earth, warming it with the radiance of kindness, mercy, generosity, unity, harmony and peace. The psalmist illuminates what that bright, sunny day will be like through the powerful metaphor of a couple in love who rush to meet together, joining each other in a loving, passionate embrace. “Love and faithfulness will meet; justice and peace will embrace,” the psalmist sings. “Faithfulness will spring forth from the earth and justice will look down from heaven.”
At the birth of Christ, God entered the world, rushing to meet the creation God loved so much in a passionate embrace. In the person of Christ, humankind accepted God’s embrace and gladly returned it. A humanity intimately connected to God cannot help but be transformed for the better. A humanity in a loving embrace with its God cannot help but to become more like God, the object of its desire. At Christmas, God reaches out to embrace us and when we celebrate Christmas, we return God’s embrace and pledge ourselves to be more like God.
How Our Embrace with God Changes Us and the World
Through faith, trust and hope in Jesus Christ, God is with us, and we are set free from capricious, cruel and worldly worries. We set our sight on what is pleasing to God, alone. Instead, we focus upon becoming more like Christ in all that we say and do. We work tirelessly to become more like the Prince of Peace — kindler, gentler, merciful, with warmer affection toward our neighbors, attracted to what is fair, and loyal to what is good. Because we focus to please God first, we become free from disquieting or rancorous thoughts. We rid ourselves of harmful, or evil, emotions. We strive for harmony in all of our relationships. We embrace others, even our opponents, as God in Christ reaches out to embrace them.
The world is as bitter, mean and divided as ever right now. We truly need to remember and celebrate Christmas. We desperately need to live into the values God has shown us most visibly in the Babe of Bethlehem. The future of the world depends upon it.