Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Christmas Hasn't Changed

Orig: 01/08/09

It was during the Christmas season that I noticed the little crèche set up beneath the altar at our church.

There, on the first altar of hay lay an image of the Christ child, and around him the small band of shepherds and kings who came to adore him. Above, on the larger altar lay Christ today, and within our church the small band of worshippers who came to adore him today. The few who came to visit him during that first Christmas season heard God and his angels sing of the wonderful event, and left their busy tasks to come and celebrate his birth. Today, I believe God and his angels still sing of the wonders of that day, and call people to come and celebrate, to come and adore. The kings and shepherds left their kingdoms and flocks to see what was announced to them; they had been waiting anxiously for the event. Today, many hear the continuing announcement, but hear the call of their “kingdoms and flocks” – their world -- as more important. Or perhaps, really, they view themselves as more important, in their world. Instead of answering the call to humble themselves to adore God, they answer their ego that says their world needs them more. Rather than bowing before their God, they prefer to feel as gods. For many, the world has replaced God in importance, and they believe this is a good and proper thing.

Even at the first Christmas, this attitude existed. Herod said he wanted to come and adore the Christ, but he really didn’t. He just wanted to destroy him and his importance, so that Herod’s power in the world might be more secure, and there’d be no distractions, for him or others. Herod wished all to be focused on him, his wishes and his desires. He wished to be as god.

Things aren’t much different today. Many in power say they want to come and adore Christ, but they really don’t. They want to destroy his importance so that their power might be more secure, with no distractions of religion or morality, for them or others. Many in power wish all to be focused on them, their wishes, their desires, and their pronouncements. They wish to be as gods. They seem to say: “Let there be a strong separation of church and state, so that there is no confusion of who comes first. Keep your Christ in your homes, in your churches, in your minds, but don’t let him be heard or seen in any public forum or public pronouncement. We come first. You may have freedom of religion – but believe in us first.”

Despite Herod’s actions, the small number came to adore at the first Christmas. Despite many efforts at minimizing the importance of Christmas, a small number still comes today.

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