In our world of inflexibility and absolutes. Where many believe their ideas are superior to all others and refuse to look at things from different perspectives, we still have the Spirit of Christmas.
Yet even this is under attack, but it’s not what you think. Not from my point of view anyway.
One of the expressions I love to hear is “We need to put Christ back in Christmas.” This statement assumes, of course, one holds such religious beliefs and ignores the equally beneficial nature of the secular aspect of the season.
But let’s explore this for a moment. Many people who have heard of Jesus Christ seem to think that Christ is his last name.
Christ, the Anglicized version of the Greek, Christos, means “the anointed one.” Another interesting, yet an equally overlooked bit of trivia, is Jesus was a Jew. Christians, who came after Jesus’s time on the earth, believed him to be the Jewish Messiah as foretold in the Old Testament.
Here’s another interesting tidbit. The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) have many similarities (and some stark differences) about the life and times of Jesus LNU (Last name unknown.)
The Canonical Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (like when Neil Young joined Crosby, Stills, and Nash) are the ones “accepted” by the Church. They excluded the Gnostic Gospels and a host of others. Paul, aka Saul, also is one of the accepted writers, but he never used the term, Jesus Christ. He might have said Christ Jesus, or Jesus the Christ (loosely translated from the original Greek) but I’m pretty sure he never listed him as Jesus Christ.
The third point, most Biblical scholars agree Jesus was not born on December 25. This doesn’t even take into consideration the myriad other similar “Messiahs” scattered through history (Apollonius of Tyana being just one example.)
Christmas, like it or not, is based on the legacy of a Pagan holiday and co-opted by the Christian Church to gather more faithful.
So, let’s review.
Jesus was not born on December 25th.
Christ is not his last name.
The “New Testament,” the go-to source for all things Jesus, has conflicting versions of his birth, life, betrayal, and death. All of which leads me to this, what does this have to do with the Spirit of Christmas?
Despite the unfortunate genealogy of the name, Christmas is a time for creating memories, remembering the Christmas of the past, and reaffirming our belief in the commonality of our humanity.
The magic of a Jolly Old Elf and flying reindeer whose sole purpose was to bring happiness to the world is enough for me. Or, any other tradition that tries to remind us of the power of seeking to make others happy as the key to our own happiness.
I will concede some aspects of my Catholic upbringing hold fond Christmastime memories. Mid-night Mass being one (although I may have enjoyed watching a few of my fellow altar boys fall asleep and slip off their seats more than the mass itself.) The music of Handel’s Messiah, with the words taken from some Biblical writing of Paul and others, always stirs my soul.
But I am comfortable that Christmas, and many other holidays derived from religious traditions and morphed into secularized versions, offers enough “Spirit” for me. I believe celebrating the “Spirit” of Christmas as a secular holiday, with the understanding that many hold religious tenets to be a significant personal aspect of it, would go a long way to making this a better world.
On that note, may you enjoy the Spirit of Christmas and have a Happy New Year!