Call it by any name you wish, celebrate or do not celebrate, but is there any time of the year so colorfully decorated and so joyously observed as Christmas? Celebrate it with extravagance or boil it down to its origin, you can’t escape the fact that it is a celebration of the Christian belief that God sent his son to earth to save us.
The child whose birth was celebrated by rich and poor in heaven and on earth grew up to show by example how men should live their lives and was then cruelly murdered by the religious establishment, only to rise again in defeat of death to bring eternal life to those who believe. To some, that is a myth, but surveys suggest that to most people in America, it is a matter of faith. It is certainly the root cause of this holiday we call Christmas. How can Christians not celebrate one of the cornerstone events of their faith?
The birth of Christ is a call to mankind to change its focus from worldly ways to spiritual ways, following the example of him whose birth Christians celebrate. The Christ child grew up to teach us to love our neighbors, and the New Testament of the Christian Bible relates story after story about how Jesus reached out to the poor, sick and disenfranchised and how he forgave those who opposed him and those who admitted their sinfulness and repented.
The acceptance of Christ as savior, whether by an earlier follower or by someone in a 10,000-congregation church today means a change in one’s life toward emulation of the life of Jesus. Those who truly celebrate the birth of Christ are required to repent of their sins and to love their neighbors — not just like-thinking Christian neighbors, but all people, including those on the margins of society and those with different values, cultures and backgrounds. It requires Christians to live in love and compassion in a time when anger and intolerance abound; it dictates forgiveness and submission in a world where dominance and assertiveness are valued.
Christmas is about the celebration of God’s love, and Christians do it justice only if they embrace his love and respond toward others as God did (and does). That love manifests itself not in how we act toward others at Christmas, but by our thoughts and actions all through the year. Christ was sent to change the world. The celebration of his birth is a call for change in the lives of those who call themselves Christians. If each individual who professes to be a Christian heeds that reminder and becomes a better Christian because of it, it will be a merry Christmas indeed.
Richard Dills (pickle)
12/22/10 at 09:52 PM
Mr. Beardslay, My brother in Christ Mark, I just wont to tell you personally that this is one EXCELANTLY worded commentary. It is such a blessing and a honor to live in a country where a columnist can proclaim this kind of truth. Very well stated, THANK YOU. And Merry Christmas to you and your family.