When I was younger, I knew that Christmas was about the birth of Jesus Christ around 3 AD. I knew the story because I heard it in Sunday School, and the pastor of our church read it. I knew that people all around me kept reminding me that Jesus is the “Reason for the Season”. But I also knew that Christmas meant Presents. There are few things that gets truly as excited as Presents. The other thing on the top of my head (as Jerry Seinfeld tells us in his standup) is Candy. Candy and Presents are the two main factors in many decisions as children. “What presents will I get?” and “How much candy can I get?” The goal of childhood is often to maximize the amounts of those two things, and to ensure the quality of them. So you want Mars and Reeses products on the candy side, and Nintendo and Barbie on the other (generally speaking).
But I am no longer a kid, or a teenager, …and I’m not in college anymore, nor am I in any continuing education. I have a job, which pays for my rent and education debt, and food, and now – Presents – for my nieces and nephews and friends. To be honest, aside from a videogame here or there…I’m not enthralled by the presents (or candy) as I once was. I now enjoy the enjoyment of others much more. Not sure when this shift started happening. It certainly didn’t start this year. I think that it began when I got married, and I stopped thinking about myself as much. Though I am a terrible gift giver, I suddenly had someone that I cared deeply about and who loved getting Presents. But not any Presents – but surprises (which I’m even worse at causing to happen) aka – items that mean something Special, and are unexpected. I am not a person with a very surprising personality.
I like a few things. I like to hang out, I like to laugh – alot. I like to tell stories, and more, to hear them. I like to have a cup of coffee (now decaffeinated), and to be surrounded by people to don’t have their eye on the time. I also like to be surrounded by people who don’t care what they are doing so long as they are with each other. Simple. Basic. You don’t need a rollercoaster to have fun. I just like to have a table (prefferably round denoting equality) where people can sit and chill. I like relationships. Not very surprising. Pretty basic.
So it brings me back to the “Reason for the Season”. Jesus. Yes, you already knew. Jesus is the Sunday School answer to everything. “Why did God do this?” Jesus. “Why did Moses do this?” Jesus. But seriously, I’ve been contemplating Christ for some time now, and as I sit with him around my metaphysical round table, I am beginning to understand quite a bit more about the “Why” we celebrate Christmas, and caring less and less about the Presents (which are nice, but now secondary). I guess you can call my mood romantic. I am becoming more and more in love with God, and as I sing Christmas Carols (sifting through the traditional langauge – thees, thous, etc.), I see how powerful the story of Jesus is.
God came to earth and physically lived with us.
Us little humans had the opportunity to see God as a person. Forget your preconceptions you’ve held about Jesus (especially the “Buddy Jesus” from Dogma), and think about the concept from God’s perspective:
“I, God, have created creatures that will not listen to me or hear me, or care about me after a while. I know that they will do this because I know everything. I created them anyway. In the future, they will be so messed up, they will be continually killing each other for nothing more than blankets, food and water. I will still love them. I will be angry with them when they curse me. I will despair when they deny that I exist. But at some fixed point in their history, I will enter their world. I will show them how I wanted them to live. I will communicate and enable a better future for them. I will give them the power to completely change their world. I will give them peace among one another, and the tools to give peace to their neighbors. And in their future, I will be their Justice. I gave them love, and someday I will give them Justice, and Perfection. They will know that I, the Lord, am their God. The only God.”
I’ve been thinking about that for a while, and I am astounded. Why would God lower himself and be like us…It isn’t very glamorous. It doesn’t make much sense either. If God is infinite and all powerful, He could send waves of water over the whole earth, and every last one of us would be destroyed. A volcano could arise in the center of each of our nations, and our orders would crumble. The wind could come and rip our monuments, our skyscrapers, and our homes to the grounds. The laws of physics could be changed, and we could be thrown into the void of space. And yet the Creator has continually breathed life into creation. Something that He thinks is worth it, despite its flaws, and the effects of injustice and self-destruction. The heart of our existence is this Mercy, that began in the fact that we Exist. And it is not unfathomable to think that we could all not exist at all. Certainly God does not need us. And in a bold move of kindness to us all, He continues our species, and allows us to care for His creation. And in all this, I can’t help but think that all of this wouldn’t be possible without the moment of God’s birth on this earth He created. Without Christ, nothing we see would have any worth. It would all just be stones in a desperate universe.
So Happy Birthday Jesus. The greatest Present of all, is that we can exist at all, and that you still love us anyway. What a strange thought.