We know that Christmas is at origin a religious celebration. One created to commemorate the birth of the Messiah. From that spirit other traditions have been added. Gift giving, gingerbread, mistletoe, Santa Clause, caroling, family gatherings, lavish meals, electric lights. Those who do not consider themselves religious - or even believers - have joined in. The entire month of December is a month filled with kindness. People look outside of themselves, they travel from wherever they are to be with people they love. They tell stories, they sing songs. They consider the needs and wants of friends and family. They make children smile.
What a marvelous thing! To unite people in the common celebration of life, of love and family. And then there is that question of - what is it's true meaning? This question is often posed by those who seek us to remember that behind all the fun - the gatherings, the presents, the customs - is a man who is called the son of God.
Christmas is not really about snow and Santa, it isn't even about giving or love. Christmas is about the one thing that is greater than all of those things. Christmas is about redemption. It is a celebration of the belief that we can change. That we can overcome. That the very son of the Almighty God came to earth and made this possible. It is something we all yearn for. Ever being. Because all of us have felt failure. Each of us has tasted desires that we cannot fully satisfy. Each of us has dreamed of something we do not think we can reach. We have all disappointed others, we have sought to give and have come short. We have all felt times - or will - when we simply do not know how we can continue. Deep within, each of us has felt the stir to change.
Christ gave, and Christ was motivated by Love. But what he gave is greater than love itself - it is the opportunity, the plea, the chance, to become something more than what we are. To become like Christ himself was and is.
I do not imagine that Christ can be displeased with gift giving, with Christmas trees and Saint Nicholas. I believe Christ smiles on us as we gather together with our families and friends, when we decorate our doors and sing about snow. But behind it all lies that great and wondrous possibility. A chance at real peace, a chance at strength of character and will, of lasting happiness, a chance at unity.
A chance at change.