I love Christmas. It is by far my favorite holiday. Several of my friends devoutly cherish Easter above it as the most significant of the Christian holidays, but I say without Christmas there would have been no Easter. Christmas signifies the depth of God's love for us in how he humbled Himself to become one of us. One of my favorite songs of the holiday season, not as well-known as some others, is an Advent hymn that eloquently describes how God took on human flesh for our benefit:
Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand.
Ponder nothing earthly-minded,
For with blessing in his hand,
Christ our God to earth descended
Our full homage to demand.
King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth he stood,
Lord of lords in human vesture,
In the body and the blood.
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.
Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.
At His feet the six-wingéd seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Lord Most High!”
Not only do I love the spiritual significance of Christmas; I also love everything that comes with it. I love the music, the gift-giving (and receiving!), the together-ness of family and friends, the holiday treats (biscochitos, yum!), the charitable acts it inspires. The whole atmosphere of Christmas is wonderful to me. I’m not one to complain about the “commericialization” of Christmas, or the addition of all the secular elements—Santa and Rudolph and Frosty. The more the merrier, I say!
And on that note, I will add a brief comment about the separation of church and state issue. Public schools and government buildings ought to be allowed to have multicultural holiday observances—whether we’re talking about décor on the city hall or songs the high school choir sings in its winter concert. What that means is that I think it’s fine to have a moderate amount of religious Christmas symbols, songs, etc., as long as secular elements, and elements representing other holiday practices, such as Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, are present as well. Banning the religious side of Christmas from government buildings and especially form schools not only interferes with Christians’ constitutional right to free exercise of religion, but also starves all of us of much of our valuable culture and history. Imagine if public school choirs were banned from singing music from Handel’s Messiah, because *gasp* we can’t have the government endorsing the Christian religion. Maybe there are some anti-theists out there who would say we should toss Handel out of the public schools along with “Silent Night” and Nativity scenes, but I think most sensible people, religious or not, should be able to see from my example the absurdity of this anti-Christian crusade that rears its ugly head every December. *sigh* What I am saying is that the winter holiday season ought to be a wonderful time of year, and it ought to be a time that belongs to everyone—Christians and non-Christians alike. So, let’s have the angels, and the reindeer, and the menorah all together. As I said above, the more the merrier!
To sum up, I will apologize to neither my Easter-preferring Christian friends, nor my non-religious and/or non-Christmas-observing friends for loving Christmas. And on that note I will say:
And I will leave you with my favorite Christmas poem:
The Work of Christmas
By Howard Thurman
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flocks,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost, to heal the broken,
To feed the hungry, to release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations, to bring peace among the people,
To make music in the heart.
Indeed, the "work of Christmas" is for everyone, not just for December, but for the whole year.
Grace and Peace,