The church attempted to 'Christian-ise' what had been essentially a pagan festival celebrating the winter solstice (see last year's post : 'So why on earth do we celebrate Christmas???), but each year the festival bumps and grinds inexorably back towards its pagan roots. Jesus never taught us to celebrate his birthday, and it is almost certain he was not born on Christmas day. And there is no evidence whatsoever, that the early church celebrated Christmas. So I don't have the same kind of romantic notions and spiritual sensitiveness that many Christians have about Christmas. I certainly reject all the extraneous associations with wintery scenes, fireplaces, yule logs, turkey and ham (shades of our colonial past!)
If we are to remember, let us instead remember that the King of Kings chose to be born in a stable - not the over-romanticized sweetly smiling child surrounded by adoring farm animals - but probably crying, cold and hungry, in a dirty, smelly, fly infested environment.
Mary was reported to have sung these famous words when she discovered her pregnancy (Luke 1):
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
Let us remember Jesus came to bring salvation, justice and hope. Peace on earth, and goodwill toward men.
If nothing else this year, let us pray that for that one night, when we supposedly commemorate the arrival of the Christ-child, that no child in this world will go to bed hungry, crying or abused.
May God grant us this one wish.
Have a blessed Christmas.