MEANING HAS BEEN LOST
What does Christmas really mean? If we take a long and harder look these days Christmas has become a celebration of crass capitalism. It is a time of at the end of each year where we can pretend that our good behaviour for the day by itself will carry over to the rest of the year. Good food, a bundle of presents to give or receive with Hallmark cards attached, no school, no work. It has become a grand holiday, not a holy day.
Whether we like to admit it or not only a few of us who claim to belong to Christianity-based faiths understand that it is a time to thank our God for what he has actually done for us on this earth staring with the day that he was born in Bethlehem. But for the rest of us instead it is a time for resurrecting Santa Claus; a time to forget all worries and the hatred that you have against other people. It is about presents, about decorating the inside of houses with glitter and lights and generally just having a good time!
The meaning of Christmas has been lost. Now, it’s really just mostly about how many hours one can spend in a store and how much money you can spend. It is sad that we have veered away from the true meaning of Christmas which is – remembering when and why a redeemer called Jesus Christ was born and to be ever thankful for that event. Thankful?
Scripture reveals that in the beginning, God created the world and everything else in it. But we take it for granted because it’s free. So can you imagine what air would cost like if someone else has to provide it? And because we take this and the many other amazing and wonderful things created for us in this world for granted, we forget.
What then would God have to do to catch your attention? Put an ad in the newspapers? But if he had to anyway (remember, Scripture also reveals that we are a thick-necked people) we’d think he’d have this to say:
“I thought of making the world in black and white. But then I said … naaah! And how can you claim to be a self-made person? I remember perfectly making you in my likeness and image! If you missed seeing the dawn or sunset that I made for you today, it doesn’t matter. I will make another one just like it for you tomorrow and the next and the next and the next. Now, if you think that or the Mona Lisa is beautiful, you should see my masterpiece in comfort your own bathroom mirror each day! In my opinion, you are the most beautiful creature in the world. And surely as it was in the beginning when I made you, I am with you always to the very end of the age. So Earth people, do not treat me like a Martian. Believe!”
Watch The Video
In this video, Andrea Bocelli teams up with Katherine Jenkins in a duet to sing ‘I Believe’ – a song whose lyrics include the stanzas “Stand up and feel the Holy Spirit find the power of your faith … I believe in a world and giving our love we’ll make heaven on earth.” An Italian tenor, multi-instrumentalist and classical crossover artist, Bocelli, who is regarded as the most popular Italian and classical singer in the world, was born with poor eyesight and became totally blind at the age of twelve following a soccer accident. And yet, despite this we see a man who’s overcome a handicap using the gift of a God-given talent to inspire the world with a message that despite humanity’s frailties, fickle-mindedness, faults and failures we all have the potential to shine through if we just believe that the meek shall inherit the Earth.
“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (Matthew 1:23). Immanuel is a beautiful word. It means “God is with us!’
While this may be a season of joy for many, there are also those countless others who are experiencing a season of pain. For some, it may be their first Christmas without their mother, father, sister, son, daughter, or other loved one. For others, if could be their last Christmas as they now struggle through the last stages of terminal cancer or some other dreadful affliction.
Then, there are the less financially fortunate of us and they are far numerous than you. These are the others who are not only unable to buy gifts for their children or loved ones, but are not even able to pay the electricity or groceries or to cover the costs of their basic needs.
In this time of the year, let us not get so wrapped up in buying gifts, finding deals, trying to please all of our family members by squeezing them into our already packed holiday schedules and all the other circumstances of stress that we allow to control our lives.
Let us open our eyes. Let us look beyond ourselves to the person in line behind us at the grocery store with only pennies in his or her pocket, to our neighbour who lives alone, to the children who have lost their parents now living in orphanages or in the streets, the homeless shivering in the cold wind, to our friends or loved ones who are struggling to make ends meet suffering deprivation in silence, or to an acquaintance or co-worker who have developed a bad attitude about life to show them that they are not alone nor forsaken.
Being made in the image and likeness of Immanuel, let us instead show them that He is with them and that He loves them enough to have sent His only Son so that they could experience who He is and what His love can do for them through you.
This is the challenge for us now as we near Christmas Day. Stop focusing so much on your ‘to-do’ list and what has to be done by Christmas. Instead, open your eyes and lift up your gaze and see that there are so many who need to know that God is with them (in you) and that, whether now is a bad time for them He has a plan to work it out always for the good in His own time. He will never fail, He will never forsake. He is Immanuel. He is with you.
From the Editorial Board of Filipinos in Christchurch here’s wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May your righteousness be filled!