After a season of preparation, the Christmas season is when those of us in the Christian faith celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It’s also when too many of us fall short of living as an example of his teachings, myself included.
The rush of over-scheduling and the focus on gift-giving too often leave us missing the entire point of the celebration. As this is typically a political column, a specific mention of our refusal to declare an armistice on political debate when with friends and loved ones deserves some attention.
It’s not that there wasn’t politics involved in the Christmas story. It does, after all, begin with a decree from the king that there was to be a census and a tax. There are issues of housing and health care delivery that led to Jesus being born in a manger. For those that believe this our president (or our last president) have committed historical lows, perhaps a refresher on King Herod’s decree to kill all the male children under the age of 2 were to be killed is in order.
Yes, politics is part of the Christmas story. It is not, however, the point of the story.
The Christmas story still resonates because it marks the birth of the triumph over current events. It is one of hope and peace. It is one that aims high when the world has gone low.
The entire story is one of a baby who becomes a leader that trashes the status quos of the day. That puts prostitutes and tax collectors on the same plane as the pure and the pious.
It is one that rejects stations in this life by both circumstance and choice for an option of a better life both now and for eternity. It is one that commands us to “love thy neighbor” and reminds us that even those we aren’t like, and often do not like, are neighbors.
Too often my Christian friends succumb to the trope that there is a “War on Christmas” as if we are the only ones celebrating this time of year. We’re not.
The real war on Christmas is too often one of self-creation, when we choose to act as if those practicing other religions or non-believers are to conform to our customs because we believe we’re in the majority. That’s not how our country works, and certainly isn’t living an ideal example of Christ.
The Christmas story is the beginning, and Easter is the equal and opposite bookend. Easter has a more specific political message. It is, after all, where the fate of Jesus wasn’t left up to God or even the King, but to the will of the people.
It should always be noted for all who like to mix their religion and politics that the only time Jesus was on the ballot, Barabbas won the election. Truth, especially with respect to religious belief, should never be left to the popular vote.
Of perhaps equal importance, a political disagreement should never be the reason that family and friends cannot celebrate consequential moments of life together. Politics are important, but they are but a means to an end.
As we go about our Christmas week and into the new year, perspective is important. Politics will always be with us and, for the foreseeable future at least, will likely be used to divide us. As the Christmas story becomes the Easter story, let those of us who believe both use them as a reminder to keep politics and the ultimate goal in proper perspective.