I’ve not been around much, and I suppose there are excuses for it, but I’m not going to go into them in depth here (maybe later). This post is to talk about this crazy holiday we are celebrating.
Recently, I’ve become rather anti-Christmas. The last few years, it was mostly just the commercialism of Christmas – trees, presents, decorations, that sort of thing. This year, whether it is because of my depression or because of my pain or because of my relationship with God, I have become anti-Christmas to the point that most manger scenes annoy me. When people talk about the real reason for the season, but it is only about happy nativities and that sort of thing, it seems to me they don’t go beyond the surface level. It is more than about the nativity, it was more even than the cross. There is a whole book about God, not just the two sections we pull out and remember every year.
Christianity has a whole lot more depth than just the birth and death of Christ. There is a whole book about creation and our likeness to God, a whole history of how God chose His people and guided them, how they went through leaders and judges and kings who were both good and bad, they were given rules and went through battles and captivity and rebuilding, there are stories of what happened to Christ between His birth and His death, it is recorded how the gift was extended to those beyond that group of people to everyone, then it tells how the truth began to spread throughout the world, including instruction and commands for each of us, and then finished with information about the future.
There is a whole lot more to the Bible than just Christmas (or Easter). I’m sick of people saying “remember the reason for the season” while looking at beautiful, peaceful nativities. I don’t think that is how it was at that first Christmas at all.
First of all, it wasn’t necessarily winter and even if it was it doesn’t snow in Israel. We don’t even know if it was a clear night, it could have been cloudy. We do know that the inn was full – so the stable (which was actually more of a cave) was most likely full of all of the traveler’s animals. It was most likely crowded with donkeys, cattle, camels, and horses. All those animals probably made the place rather fragrant and crowded. Mary was young, perhaps even as young at 13 or 14, and was not blonde haired and blue eyed. I highly doubt that she had the instant, painless birth that we so often see in skits. I imagine her lying exhausted and sweaty on a musty stack of straw in a corner of a crowded barn. After hours of labor, the child arrives, and screams for the first time. I don’t think he didn’t make a sound – he was God, but was also fully man! Joseph, nervously watched over his bride (or possibly wasn’t even present for the birth, I think I read somewhere that men couldn’t be present at the birthing of a child at that time). He was mostly likely older than Mary, possibly by quite a bit.
So, I may have ruined some of your ideas of a nice, happy nativity scene, but again, there is more to the story than just the happy nativity. A lot more. This Christmas, though I’m frustrated at decorations, annoyed at carols, and flustered at nativities, I find myself drawing nearer to God and allowing Him to take over more of my life. I’m not going to lie, I haven’t given everything to Him and I still struggle daily to even remember to make Him a part of my day, but I want to encourage you to examine your life this Christmas, and try to discover where God fits in – all three of His persons – Father and Spirit, in addition to the Son. Remember the real reason for the season (and I don’t mean the pagan background either).