There are ways of thinking about Christmas.
For those on the Christian faith path…
It is the birth of the savior of the world. Who came to save man from sin and redeem humankind from the possession of the evil one. It is the happy birthday to you of God in the flesh. God incarnate or the hypostatic union of the theanthropic man.
It is the Joy to the World; the Lord has come. Let earth, receive its King. It is mirth and cheer. It is Mordor overthrown and the destruction of the Ring.
Let there be peace on Earth.
For those on the Jesus faith path… That is, those who practice the religion of Jesus (Judaism) as opposed to the religion about Jesus (Christianity)…
It is the season of the festival of lights. Hanukkah. That time in which one more tribe tried to convert our tribe and failed. We rose up and Baruch Hashem delivered us. We honored G-d with lights in a sanctuary. With not enough oil we kept the fires burning to pay homage to our blessed art thou Oh Lord our G-d, King of the universe.
For some of us Jews, it is the time of the birth of a rebel rabbi who was one of the greatest religious thinkers humanity has produced (Kosher Jesus, as Rabbi Boteach would say). Our older brother the storyteller whom we love as Martin Buber would put it. A religious leader who tried to put new wine into old wineskins and was rewarded with being burst on a cross.
For other Jews, it is the time of the birth of the mamzer. A reprobate illegitimate whose supposed followers have spent history seeking to torment our tribe whose father is the devil. And their great commission has included honoring God by repaying we Christ killers for our evil deeds in spades… expulsions, pogroms, robberies, murders, rapes, Ghettoes, and ultimately a brilliant final solution, the holocaust.
For those on the common day secularist path…
It may be a time of lights in the darkness of winter. Good foods, gift giving, bread breaking, Secret Santas, peace on earth and good will to men. A time to be more giving and charitable to those in need. A time of rest and leisure and hot cocoa.
Or simply a time of mindless consumerism. Pressured and hurried buying of unneeded gifts for ungrateful people with unavailable funds. Too much time with noxious neighbors and obnoxious family… barely made tolerable with rich eggnog. Eggnog with healthy doses of rum.
And for a faith blended family. She, a Jewess. He a Christian.
In the best of times.
For her, the birth of a reformer Jew who her husband loves. When she reads the sermon on the mount, she is inspired to be a better human being. She thinks with Gandhi, “Your Jesus I like. His followers, not so much”. Even saying this she recognizes she fears and takes issue with many conservative Christians but has much fellowship with more moderate Christians. “A great teacher, yes”, she thinks. “But, God in the flesh? Oy. He couldn’t bring us a bit more peace on earth and good will to men and not get himself killed?”
For him, it is that time when myth became reality. God in his great love for us came down in time to ransom humankind from the chains of the evil one. To begin the process of bringing the gentiles into the Kingdom of God. The most blessed time of the year. That time when the little baby Jesus is born anew in each of us so that God may know us as His precious children, and we may be a blessing to the whole earth.
That time of joy to the world. When heaven and nature sing… while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains repeat the sounding joy.
Repeat the sounding joy.
Jean Llanomirth, Ways of Thinking About Christmas
In the year of the Plague, December