A Christmas Reflection
Rev. Fr. Bonnie Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.
What excites you about Christmas? Do you know Christmas enough to celebrate it? There are more lies about Christmas than any other event on earth. Children are groomed to believe that Santa Claus (Father Christmas) comes to town from the milky way galaxy, riding on a sleigh with a bag of gifts for every good child, so the idea is “to be good for goodness’ sake!”
Christmas has been redefined and restructured to accommodate and project some accessories other than its main objective. The fir tree dominates the thought about Christmas. There is even a song for it: “O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree.” What about the bright red and green colors, the lights, the jingle bells, and others?
There is a strong connection between Christmas and commerce. We buy and keep buying because it is Christmas, only to enter a new year just a few days after with bills staring at us. There seems to be something strong and compelling about Christmas, which, unfortunately, is unconnected with the true essence of the Christian festival.
The True Story: The Original Christmas
The backstory of Christmas is God’s desire to reconnect to humanity after the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-15). The prophecy of Isaiah says that a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and will call him Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14). Furthermore, the prophecy of Micha (5:2) tells us that Bethlehem (the least tribe of Judah) will be the birthplace of the child who will be the ruler of Israel.
All the prophecies about the birth of Jesus Christ were fulfilled with factual precision in the Gospel accounts of Matthew and Luke. The Blessed Virgin Mary, following the visit of the angel Gabriel, conceived and gave birth to Jesus in a stable in the town of Bethlehem, which by the way, means “house of bread.” Jesus would later present himself as the bread of life (John 6:35).
During the original Christmas, Mary had no room to have her child in the Inn after traveling ninety miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. On the original Christmas night, the only accommodation Joseph could get was the vacant space for the animals grazing with some shepherds. It will be proper to think that the nativity angels brought the good news of the birth of Jesus to the shepherds and the animals who vacated their place for Jesus to be born that Holy Night. The scripture even tells us that the shepherds were nearby, keeping watch over their flock at night (Luke 2:8).
The original Christmas was a starry night, but there were no fancy lights. There were no jingle bells; the only sound was the innocent cry of the baby Jesus that pierced through the silent and holy night. There was no father Christmas, but God, the Father of Christmas, behind the nativity scene, navigating and bringing everything together with divine wisdom and precision.
Where are you Searching for me?
The first statement of Jesus at age twelve was a question to his parents, who found him in the temple after he was missing for three days: “why are you searching for me? Didn’t you know I should be in my Father’s house?”
Jesus asks us the same question at Christmas, and it comes this way, “where are you searching for me this Christmas? Didn’t you know I should be in your heart? Where is the direction of your Christmas search; your heart or the things surrounding Christmas?
Moving Forward: Do Not Miss the Reason for the Season
The central point and reason for Christmas is our Lord Jesus Christ. And the proper celebration mode is adoration after the manner of the initial visitors to the birthplace, the shepherds, and the wise men from the east. We do not need to travel to Bethlehem to see Jesus; we can find him in our hearts.
Every year most people miss Christmas because they miss the reason for the season. Put another way; most people search for the wrong things leaving the right person. We need to reconnect to the original Christmas, where the focus of everyone, including Herod, was on the newborn king of Israel and the King of our heart Jesus Christ.
Do not celebrate a Christless Christmas! Have a blessed and enriching celebration. God bless you!