Life offers many questions. When it comes to curiosity in the physical world, we turn to science for answers. When we think about life’s big questions, we turn to philosophy. Religion seeks to answer spiritual questions that impact this life. Faith, in our case Christianity, offers answers to the meaning of life, the problem of sin and evil, and reveals that there is hope beyond this world through Jesus.
A.W. Tozer, an American Pastor, and Theologian writes
“It does seem strange that so many persons become excited about Christmas and so few stop to inquire into its meaning, but I suppose this odd phenomenon is quite in harmony with our unfortunate human habit of magnifying trivialities and ignoring matters of great import. The same man who will check his tires and consult his road map with utmost care before starting on a journey may travel for a lifetime on the way that knows no return and never once pauses to ask whether or not he is headed in the right direction.”
I think that Tozer brings up a great point. How much time do we spend discussing trivial matters that have little impact on our lives? Whether it’s sports (my favorite diversion), politics, or social media, we spend hours every week (day?) on these matters. A study in 2020 showed that the average social media user spends 2 hours and 33 minutes on the six major social media platforms every day! While there can be some good things that come from social media, we can agree that most of it is negative. We have magnified the trivial while ignoring matters of greater importance.
This Christmas, we will spend much time decorating, hanging lights, shopping for presents, baking cookies, traveling to see family and friends, putting up a tree, and going to parties. At what point do we stop and consider the meaning of Christmas? Where do we find time to abide with Christ- God in flesh- who has come to abide in us?
Christmas is more than wrapping paper, gifts, cookies, or lights. It is pretty straightforward. God has come to earth in human form to gather humanity to God. St. Athanasius, in On the Incarnation writes, “God became man that we might become God.” We do not become God, but when we are forgiven and redeemed, God calls us to live as one with God. At Christmas, we must consider the importance of God coming to earth to save humanity as it reflects our value and worth in the eyes of God.
Consider this another way. In the classic A Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie is depressed about the holiday’s commercialization. His friend, Lucy, asks him to direct a Christmas pageant. Directing a play is no help for Charlie’s mood. As Lucy and the others mock Charlie’s Christmas tree, he asks, “Does anybody know what Christmas is about?” You know how it ends. Linus takes center stage and proclaims:
Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
With that, Linus declares, “That is what Christmas is all about.”
This Christmas, let us spend a little less time on things that are trivial and spend time in prayer and contemplation about the meaning of Christmas- and how God invites us to live because of the Good News of the Christmas story!