Here are my thoughts for this Christmas Day, 25 December 2006
Today is Christmas Day. But that doesn’t seem to matter when the news of the day focuses on deaths in a war half around the world. It doesn’t seem to matter that today is Christmas when we read of churches about to split apart because of differences in how we treat people. It doesn’t seem to matter when the lead financial stories seem to be how people are spending million dollar bonuses on fast cars and multi-million dollar houses. It doesn’t seem to matter when the sermon at last night’s Christmas Eve service was about the love and redemption that began in Bethlehem some two thousand years ago but the people complained because they didn’t sing the traditional Christmas carols.
But every story that seems to take away from the Christmas story gives further evidence that the Christmas story does matter. Every time a person puts their own interests before the interests of their friends, their neighbors, or the person they pass by on the way to work is another reason why the Christmas story matters.
We need not go out into the world and chastise people when they act in a manner that shows disrespect for God. There have been those who have sought to do this in the past. They were the forerunners to the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes of Jesus’ day. They are still present today, using incomplete quotes in the Bible to justify hatred, exclusion, and ignorance. As their hearts harden, their voices seem to get louder and it gets harder for each of us to hear the truth.
But we remember that the first to hear that the Savior was born were the shepherds, the lowliest of society. So it does matter that today is Christmas because we know that the story is the same for all and it offers proof that God cares for all, not just some. We remember that the shepherds left and became the first to tell the world that the Savior had been born. We remember that the wise men came because they sought the truth. They found the truth in a little child and they returned home via a different road because their encounter with the baby Jesus changed their lives. So it does matter that today is Christmas and that Christ was born this day so that we might win over sin and death.
And, it should matter that tomorrow, when all the trappings and decorations of the season begin to be taken down and every thing returns to normal, we do not return to normal. Through our lives, through what we do, what we say, and how we treat others that we come into contact with each day, we will show that Christmas and the birth of Christ continue long past December 25th. We are the ones who heard the angels singing this year; we are the ones who saw the star in the East and followed it this year; we are the ones who came to the manger this year. So we are the ones who will take the Christmas message out into the world tomorrow. Does it matter that today is Christmas? Most certainly, it does. But it will only matter if you don’t forget it tomorrow.