During this time of year we get basically two types of holiday movies or specials. The first type is where once again someone helps Santa to save Christmas. I don’t know why kid’s would admire a Santa that seems to every year mess things up and require somebody else to come in and save Christmas. The other type is where the final message is that family is important and we should be nice to one another. I also see many articles where they talk about the true spirit of Christmas where somebody helps out the poor or does another act of kindness. The Christmas holiday also abhors a vacuum and when it is drained of Christ other things seek to fill it.
While remembering that family is important and that we should give of ourselves are goods in and of themselves they are not the true spirit of Christmas, but should be the out pourings of that true spirit. Others will remind us to remember the reason for the season and that Jesus was born onto us the Messiah. This gets closer to the truth of Christmas, yet isn’t quite there. To understand that God became man and was born in Bethlehem we must understand the why of it.
Jesus did not become man to take a vacation from eternity. He was not out to see the sights of Jerusalem and to chill out with us humans for a while. We aren’t exactly known for our hospitality in treating God-men tourists; crucify him! No the reason for the season is sin. The incarnation was the first step in rectifying the sin of our first parents. Through pride Adam and Eve wanted to determine for themselves what was good and what was evil and to become like god. Through humility Jesus took the form of a slave and became man. Adam and Eve tried to make themselves big and self-sufficient, while Christ the second person of the Holy Trinity became small and totally dependent on a mother’s care. For centuries Christ prepared us for his coming through the prophets, yet the inns in Bethlehem never seemed to receive his pre-announced reservations and sent them to an alternative dwelling. We would cave in to sin and Jesus came to us in a cave. The Israelites had mistaken the reason for the Messiah and had turned it into a secular event and a kingdom on earth. Our Christmas holiday is no different, again the coming of the Messiah is mistaken for a secular event. As if Christ was born so that we could measure consumer confidence.
The loss of the true spirit of Christmas is because of the loss of the true meaning of sin. It is easier to transform Christmas into something materialistic, then to transform ourselves into something more spiritual. Once we again take sin more seriously, we can then take Christmas more seriously. We would find it odd to go to someone’s birthday party and that all the gifts exchanged are between the guests and no present is given to the one who’s birthday it was. Yet that is exactly what we have done to Christ. Of course Jesus is hard to shop for. What do you give to the God-man who created everything?
God has given us his Christmas list:
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise
and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another
At Easter we sing the Exultet and there is a parallel for Christmas “O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, that unto us a child was born!”