Christ in Christmas
There are times when I wonder the significance of Christmas.
Not because it might be lost in the frenzy of wanting or the commercialized obsession over sales, but because of where Christ fits into it at all. It is my favorite time of year, yet it has always to me been a strange holiday for Christianity. But before I get to why that is, consider the below from Genesis:
“And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made” (2:2-3).
My family did not become religious until I was ten, and because of this, Christmas to me has always simply been a time of family, rest, and renewal, not an occasion hallowed by God. At no point in scripture or prophesy did Christ set apart a season dedicated to his birth. Only once did God sanctify a time in such a way, and that was the Sabbath as described above.
Since Christ’s atonement, we have been asked to regularly renew our dedication to the Savior, to make an offering to him in worship, as “with a crust of bread, always broken, blessed, and offered first, we remember his bruised body and broken heart, his physical suffering on the cross” (This Do in Remembrance of Me, Jeffrey R. Holland).
This is the most important of sacraments, for “the Savior’s physical suffering guarantees that through his mercy and grace every member of the human family shall be freed from the bonds of death and be resurrected triumphantly from the grave.” And yet our devotions to Christ are at their cultural peak during a time of year that early Christians converted from a pagan holiday in order to gain more converts.
I write not to suggest that we rid ourselves of this season. Yes, it was once a celebration of pagan worship. Yes, it has become a commercialized nightmare in some regards. And yet, Christ can be found in it if we seek him. As someone who had to slowly learn the meaning of Christmas, I am reminded of a Christmas scene from the sitcom Community, in which they conclude that Christmas is something that we made and give meaning to, rather than it having a meaning of its own (watch a short bit here to get the idea).
In other words, I want to suggest something simple: that just as Christmas is man-made, we can place Christ into any aspect of life we choose. And we ought to more often. Despite all the times that we the people of humanity have messed things up, Christmas is something we actually got right in a way. We have over the course of time created a whole month, really, to revere the child who would become the Prince of Peace, the author of our salvation.
So let us embrace this Christmas season for what it can be, and let us seek to carry that spirit more fully into the coming year until we arrive at Christmas once more.