Nowadays it is hard not to notice that the true meaning of Christmas tends to get buried in the clatter and glitter of the ever-expanding commercial explosion that occurs every year at Christmas time.
As the Christmas season unfolds, shopping, feasting, drinking, dancing and exchanging of gifts, along with Santa Claus and Rudolph take center stage in many peopleâ€™s lives. This non-religious surge diverts attention away from the real reason why we choose to celebrate Christmas at all.
There is clear evident that the frenzied commercial activities at the time of the year tend to saturate many peopleâ€™s senses and harden their hearts. In a world choked with greed and vice, it is easy to lose sight of the true spiritual importance of Christmas â€“ that Jesus Christ was born, lived, died, conquered death and is alive again.
That is why the true meaning of Christmas is found in our recognition and expression of the importance of family â€“ our own families, the families of our relatives, friends and neighbours, and our entire human family.
What matters is not shopping and partying until you drop, or showing your face in church or lustily singing a few old hymns. What matters is that the Christmas gifts and gestures goodwill genuinely reflect the emotions in our hearts and that these should be the feelings towards each other that Christ commands and expect us to have.
But our flawed human nature does not permit us to express genuine love for each other all the time, which is why in other to embrace the true meaning of Christmas we need to reflect on the birth of Christ and reflect on the purity of His love and try our utmost best to live up to His example, even if it is only during the Christmas Holidays.
The earth circles the sun in an elliptical orbit, taking us near and far. And I imagine there comes a special singular moment at the extreme of our trajectory around the sun.
Yes I know December 25th does not coincide with this moment. But beneath my consciousness of this planetâ€™s revolution, and our rotation on it, is the moment we are at a standstill, like children on an amusement ride, before we continue our journey to sunâ€™s other side.
I did the oddest thing: I set up a creche. I am a middle aged professor with two young children and I installed a creche. I do not sanction close ties between religion and government; I believe that the word â€œGodâ€ should not be in the pledge or on our currency and our freedom does not derive from religion.
Yet I will be telling my children that Christmas is when we remember the birth of someone we murdered because he suggested we love each other.
Did something happen that night, over 2000 years ago?
Yes I know if something happened, it was not in winter, but I will not let the coldness of facts obscure the beauty of a deeper truthâ€™s light. Early Christians appropriated a pagan culture of the solstice, yet that same culture evolved from the spirit of this philosophy of love lingering on the decaying vines of the Roman Empire: what goes around comes around.
So what happened that night? A woman gave birth to a baby whose paternity was unknown.
My own paternity is removed from the moment my children were born; nine months before their birth. Maternity, however, is bloody certain – I saw it with my eyes. So I imagine a perfect force in this universe that is unseen and I sense a majestic magnetic maleness to it. And I imagine a force that is visible; and majestically, electrically female â€“ Mother Earth. And I imagine a higher power not as God the Father, nor God the Mother, but the perfection of their Love.
On December 25th, we say a child was born who suggested that we love one another. And the earth stopped – it simply stopped spinning for just a moment, I believe, from the shock of this thoughtâ€™s simplicity.
It is known that when electric and magnetic waves are in harmony, the result is light. I imagine what physics suggests: from String Theory to the Big Bang. My reason sees the perfection of electricity and magnetism pulsing in harmony â€“ a seen force infused with a force unseen â€“ becoming light and cracking open the heavens. From this vibrating portal pour forth shimmering sub-atomic particles glittering in the winter nightâ€™s angelic snowfall. And I imagine a universe expanding and collapsing with an explosive Love that shepherds us to be greater if we can love unconditionally. I imagine earthly Kings bowing down before this power of Love. I imagine a family as the chrysalis of humanity: a father that pulls to an unknown place and a mother who pushes from her center. And I fuel this nativity with a musical memory: with the quiescence of a Silent Night, the spirit of a Holy Night and the simplicity of the First Noel.
Now I have two children. I want them to know this not antecedent to Judaism or precedent to Islam, but an end in itself – an extreme of an orbit. I want them to know we murdered an innocent person because he suggested we love one another. This individual so much believed in Love that he became Love. And when he said â€œthe path back home to the unknown – the Father – is through me,â€ he had become Love, living; he had become light. When my kids say â€œMerry Christmas,â€ I want them to transcend the gifts and sales and understand this. I wonâ€™t dissuade them from the common images: I want them to experience Santa, Rudolph and Frosty; for these images rest on the surface of a turbulent lake. And when that lake calms, these distractions dissolve to reveal what is lies beneath – images of a baby, that night, and that Love.
Yes, deep within my consciousness is the Earth hurtling through the blackness of space, with all of us hanging on by a string. And for a moment, in the darkness of this solar system – just as we swing sharply to the other side of the ride – everything comes to a stop. All my confusion, fear, anxiety, anger, greed, selfishness and worry that far too often permeates my life, comes to stop and dissolves at the extreme of earthâ€™s motion when I try, just a bit more, to move beyond myself, to live his suggestion. This night a child was born of the love between what we see and what we know and has fused both into a spirit whose Love lights the world with perfection.