Every year I try and remember when I have my first Christmas moment of the season. While there are many meanings, my personal Christmas moment definition is hearing the first Christmas song of the season. I was able to check this off my annual “Bucket List” on Saturday, September 15th at 2:11PM in the local Wal-Mart. While it wasn’t a Thomas Kinkade, Norman Rockwell or Currier & Ives moment, hearing “Silver Bells” as I passed by the shaving cream while carrying some fertilizer from the garden section seemed fitting. This was quickly followed by a deflated snowman that looked more like a pile of dirty clothes on your teenager’s bedroom floor than Christmas. Ah yes, Christmas was in the air.
Unless you were living under a rock, been in a comma or on another planet for the past couple of months, you’ve heard hour upon hour of Christmas music. Whether you went to church or not this season, I know that you heard hundreds of hours of Christmas music in stores, shopping centers, even while pumping gas. Everything from Santa, reindeers, Frosty, sleigh bells, chestnuts, you name it, Christmas music has been in the air. And while the music style is labeled “Christmas,” there is precious little of what’s played in public forums that directly or indirectly points to Christ.
Now some decry this with great gusto and emotion as not “Keeping the Reason for the Season” and “Taking Christ out of Christmas.” Others will say that America is losing its religious roots and foundation. I can understand all this to a point.
But the birth of Jesus, the reason for Christmas, was anything but a “religious” event. Think about it;
- Mary and Joseph were forced to travel because of someone greedy decision
- We know of no relatives or friends who were there to greet or help them
- They were virtually homeless
- After giving birth to Jesus, Mary put him in a feeding-box
- They were so destitute that they could only afford the smallest sacrifice payment
When we think about the birth of a baby, there are a whole truckload of things we assume that just were not part of the first Christmas;
- No doctors, nurses and technicians in clean surgical gowns, face masks and gloves; scrubbing and using antibiotics every time they enter the room
- No pain or anti-infection fighting medicines
- No medical technology to speed along a safe delivery
- No doting grandparents or family
- No baby showers or friends to support, celebrate and send over meals
- No immediate posting of pictures on Twitter or Facebook of mother and child
- No sanitary nursery with plastic cribs behind glass
- No priest or any religious/spiritual leader
Yes, the birth of Jesus was not religious in any sense of the word. There was no ceremony, no list of the right things to do or say. There were no candles, no alter, no sacred building. It was like so many births in a third-world country; lonely, poor and without outside help.
Yet we remember the birth of this one child from all the rest in history because of who he is – God from eternity past, Jesus is “God with us.” He had to come and rescue us from the deep trouble that we got ourselves into, and could not get ourselves out of. God had to act to restore and renew us and our relationship with God and one another.
There is nothing that we can do to fix ourselves. No self-imposed set of ridged religious to-do’s or soft spiritual sentiments can set things back to the way God made them. We broke ourselves and God so dearly wanted us back that he sent his son.
That’s why there is nothing religious about Christmas. Religion is when we try and fix ourselves. Christmas is all about God paying the price to fix us, making restoration back to being his sons and daughters possible through Jesus.
Blessings – Chet
Chet Gladkowski speaks and writes on topics that touch on culture, life and faith through GLAD Associates. This article is taken from a chapter in his upcoming book.