What if there were no Christmas?
Living in a multi-cultural society like America, it is not difficult to imagine what it would be like living in a country where they did not celebrate Christmas. In fact, in a society such as ours Christmas is just one of a number of religious holidays celebrated and which to all intents and purposes seem quite similar. You can hardly determine one from the other.
It has something to do with the lights and, in a number of cases, the practices are quite similar. I recall living in New Jersey, in a neighborhood with a strong Jewish population. Except for Santa Claus, you could hardly tell the difference whether the persons in a particular house were celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah. The houses were all decorated with lights everywhere at this time of the year.
This multi-cultural phenomenon is certainly not unique to the American society. If you check it out you will discover that there are very few nations in the world today that are mono-cultural and where there are not a multiplicity of religions and religious practices. And in each instance you will find those similarities in celebrations of religious festivals and events that sometimes make it difficult to tell whether one is observing, for example Divali, a Hindu festival of lights, or Christmas. In addition to the lights there are the goodies, the gifts, looking after the poor, etc. It is hard to tell the difference.
But is there a difference? What difference does Christmas make? Remembering why Christians observe Christmas, it would be more to the point to ask what difference did Christ’s coming make? Perhaps we ought to ask the question a different way. What if he had not come?
No Christmas means…no redemption, no reconciliation, no resurrection.
Sure, his coming makes a difference. Call it a theological difference if you wish. First of all, if there was no Christmas there would be no redemption. The whole purpose behind the Word becoming flesh is the accomplishing of God’s plan of redemption for the whole world. The angel said to Joseph: “You will call him Jesus for he shall save his people from their sins” All religions have their prescription for salvation. It is only in Christianity that salvation is totally dependent upon God’s redemptive action.
If there were no Christmas there would also be no reconciliation. God’s action in sending Christ was to establish peace between him and his estranged creation. The message of the angels to the shepherds was “Peace on earth, goodwill towards men”
Lastly, if there were no Christmas there would be no resurrection. Some years ago Harry Belafonte sang his famous song “Mary’s Boy Child,” one of the lines of which says “Man shall live forever more because of Christmas day.” It is because Christ came, lived, was crucified, buried, rose from the dead and lives again and in so doing all mankind now have the hope of eternal life.
Christmas provides a refreshing view of who God is.
Christmas also says to us that God cares enough to become involved with his creation. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Christmas reminds us that there is more to life than what we see. Might is not right. Meekness is not weakness. Strength does not of necessity reside in the arms of the powerful.
Notice that it was as a baby that the Almighty God came. It was in a manger that the Everlasting Father was laid. It was in rags that the Prince of Peace was dressed. Hundreds of years before Isaiah declared “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Christmas also gives us a view of what we can become.
Finally, Christmas speaks of hope. Hope for all mankind. Because Christ came, men and women need not remain as they are. They can experience meaningful changes in their lives. The following words, printed one year at the back of the War Cry, said it best.
I gave a beggar from my scanty store of hard-earned gold. He spent the shining ore
And came again, and yet again, still cold and hungry as before.
I gave the Christ, and through that Christ of mine
He found himself, a man, supreme, divine.
Fed, clothed, and crowned with blessings manifold and now he begs no more.
To those of you who are Christians reading this publication, let us remember, as we enter into the festivities, that as Christians we are to share the Christ of Christmas. In doing so we become dispensers of hope. It is through him that we can effect the changes in people. It is through him that we can give hope to people. To those of you who are not Christians, do join us in this celebration. These festivities are as much for you as it is for those of us who are Christians. In doing so, however, we invite you to enjoy the biggest blessing that you can experience at this time of the year. The blessing of the living Christ coming to live within you. Let the Christ of Christmas make a difference in your life. May you enjoy God’s blessings this Christmas and may joy be yours throughout the coming year.