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Why can’t we all celebrate the birth?

December 23, 2014   ·   0 Comments

Christmas is many different things to different people.

To practising Christians it’s a time to celebrate a virgin birth roughly 2,000 years ago, and a time to sing familiar carols and show up in church and enjoy the carols.

For agnostics and atheists it’s still a time for revelry, gift-giving (and receiving) and turkey dinners with all the trimmings.

But for today’s “politically correct,” this is no longer Christmastime; it’s just the “happy holidays” running around the year’s end. No longer is it acceptable in most of our public schools to have traditional Christmas concerts with the familiar carols and a manger scene.

Perhaps the time has come for us to reflect on the appropriateness of not just putting “Christ” back into Christmas, but to go much further and urge everyone to at least acknowledge the important role played by Jesus of Nazareth and thus celebrate his birth, whenever it really was. None of the four gospels gives us the date, and historians have found that December 25 was popularized as the date for Christmas, not because Christ was born on that day, but because it was already popular in pagan religious celebrations as the birthday of the sun.

In fact, shepherds wouldn’t have been in their fields abiding their flocks at that time of the year, and mangers would have been too cold to serve as a birthplace.

But does that matter, really?

The real message of Christmas lay in the angels’ call for peace on earth and good will to all – something all right-thinking people of all faiths or lack of one should embrace.

When you think of it, all Jews, Christians and Moslems see themselves as worshipping one deity, be (s)he known as Jehovah, Allah or just as God Almighty.

And whether or not you see Jesus as God’s son, any careful reading of the New Testament will surely give the reader impressive advice in their account of his parables and other teachings. In particular, we discover his gift of a new commandment – that in addition to loving God, “thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

In a world that has seen so many atrocities, be it the slaughter of 132 children in a school in Pakistan, the execution of two New York police officers as apparent retribution for the killing of two unarmed black men by white policemen, or the senseless slaying of two Mounties by seemingly deranged converts to Islam, “love thy neighbour as thyself” is a commandment that surely needs universal observance.

So we make no apologies for concluding with the words of a Canadian carol:

No Crowded eastern street,

No sound of passing feet;

Far to the left and far to right,

The prairie snows spread far and white;

Yet still to us is born tonight

The child, the King of glory.

No rock-hewn place of peace

Shared with the gentle beasts,

But sturdy farm house, stout and warm,

With stable, shed, and great red barn;

And still to us is born tonight

The child, the King of glory.

No blaze of heavenly fire

No bright celestial choir,

Only the starlight as of old,

Crossed by the plane’s flash, red and gold;

Yet still to us is born tonight

The child, the King of glory.

No kings with gold and grain,

No stately camel train:

Yet in his presence all may stand

With loving heart and willing hand;

For still to us is born tonight

The child, the King of glory.

Merry Christmas!

         

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