I just finished watching my favorite version of A Christmas Carol. In this rendition, Captain Jean Luc Picard plays the part of Scrooge and brings such a weightiness and excellent acting to the part that I tape the version each year to watch on Christmas Eve. As I told a friend of mine while chatting on Facebook tonight, I believe Dickens’ novella is the greatest story of a man finding redemption to be had outside the pages of the Bible. He starts the movie a hard-hearted miserly old . . . well, SCROOGE, but four ghosts later, he is a changed man who knows the meaning of Christmas isn’t presents or even family. The true meaning of Christmas is redemption.
Scrooge can find redemption for the same reason we all can, because a little over two thousand years ago, God was born in the flesh to a teenage virgin girl huddled with her betrothed in a dank odoriferous cave converted into a makeshift stable behind a cheap motel in the backwater town of Bethlehem in the equally backwater region of Palestine. That girl then wrapped God — creator of the Universe — in clean, but frayed cloths and laid Him in a feed trough and probably sang Him to sleep. Royal robes to old rags; angelic choir to a mother’s lullaby. All so that He could undo the tremendous mess His most prized creation had gotten the world into. He came as a baby with one purpose in sight — to die on a cross and save the world. Everyone born WILL die; He was born TO die . . . and save us all.
Atheists, scientists, other religions’ leaders down the centuries have tried to disprove that teenage girl ever had a child named Jesus. They’ve tried through time to say He never existed, and when they failed in that, they tried to say He existed, but He wasn’t God. I think they’ve failed at that as well.
See, the name of the holiday (holiday = holy day) is Christmas. Literally, that means Mass of Christ. Now I’m not going into all the theological historical arguments about Christmas being a usurpation of the pagan Saturnalia and Jesus not being born in December. I know all of those arguments and if you insist on hashing them out, give me an email in the comments and we’ll talk. Now, back to the name. A mass is a celebration so Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ. It’s right there in the name.
The name isn’t “Toymas.”
It’s not “Santamas”
It’s not “Treemas” or “Partymas” or “Frostymas.”
It’s not called “Shoppingmas” or “Retailmas” or “Giftmas.”
We don’t sing about “O Shopping Night” or “The First Black Friday.”
We don’t because no matter how much the rising tide of secularization tries to wash away anything Christian to do with Christmas, they haven’t thought to change the name. They’ve tried a time or two. Years ago it started with “Seasons’ Greetings” and today the most PC among us go with “Happy Holidays” (again: holiday = holy day). Christmas is still on the calendar though. The name of the Federal holiday (holy day) is “Christmas” and not “Winter Holiday.”
The Roman Empire was one of the mightiest political entities ever. They tried to kill the holiday in the womb and stamp out Christianity, but they couldn’t get it done. Neither could Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, or Mao and they ALL had more power than any of our Presidents have ever possessed.
Every gift you run around buying? You are constantly reenacting a central part of the Christmas story — the Magi bringing gifts to the Christ child. Every scrap of “holiday” music you listen to from Halloween to December 26th? Reenacting the angelic host announcing to the shepherds the birth of the Christ child. Wrapping all those gifts? Just like Mary wrapped our ultimate gift.
So try to stamp it out. Try to humbug it like Scrooge did, but at the end of it all, despite the best efforts of generation after generation of genuises, the message of Christmas is still Christ is Born. To quote the greatest showman wrestler of all time, Mr. Richard Fleer, aka Ric “The Nature Boy” Flair, “Whether you LIKE it, or DON’T LIKE it, sit down and LOOK at it, because it’s the best thing going today!”
Can I get a “whooooo?”
Love y’all, keep those feet clean, and Merry Christmas.