EDITORIAL: The true meaning of Christmas
AT CHRISTMAS, a time for goodwill and peace towards all men, it is quite understandable to want to forget the horrors of poverty, hunger, disease, death and criminal violence that affect us here, and plague all people across the globe.
After all, Christmas is a birthday celebration – it’s when Christians commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ whose coming brought hope to man for a better life.
Though universally Christmas is celebrated with revelry and festive-type indulgence, the story of the Nativity is easily the most familiar and beloved of the messages of the Christian faith. Indeed, if the average person had to explain Christmas to someone who knew nothing about it, they might begin from this point.
Redemption and salvation, feasting, gift-giving and singing, humility and sharing would most certainly be parts of their answer too.
The personal explanations though would be easier. The rituals of “pulling down the house” on Christmas Eve to put it back up in the wee hours of Christmas morning, the smell of the family ham baking in the oven, eating the traditional green peas and rice and jug jug (a mixture of peas, ham, Indian corn and spices), and washing it down with a cold glass of sorrel, would quickly come to mind.
They may even recall the majestic sight of snow-on-the-mountain interspersed with the long red leaves of poinsettia, fluttering in the breeze.
They would definitely speak about the importance of family and how Christmas, more than any other period, has such an emotional pull on people to come together that it can influence estranged relatives to reunite.
To fully explain Christmas though, they would have to try to say how the spiritual message, the fond memories and emotions relate to the frenzied commercial activity that characterises this time of year.
The stranger might well wonder, if Christmas is about rejoicing at the birth of mankind’s redeemer, Jesus Christ; and if the period should be for commemoration of the change His coming brought to this earth, what does all the rushing around and buying leading up to this day have to do with the real spirit of the celebration? After all, if we truly appreciate each other, why can’t we show it all year round and not just at Christmas?
This concern is a well-worn theme that is addressed each year because of the painful recognition that both believers and non-believers seem to view Christmas as primarily a time for sharing gifts.
It is clear from the level of conspicuous commercialism that has engulfed succeeding generations, that this tradition of giving has been abused by succeeding generations to the point where people are focusing less on the birth of the Saviour and more on the items in the stores.
With all the negatives that are occurring in this world, we would be better off as a people to try to focus more on the real meaning of Christmas and less on the material aspects. We need therefore to extend a helping hand to others every day of every week of every month, and not just at this time of year.
We need too to empathise with those who have lost loved ones as at Christmas, a time when family and friends get together, the pain of this separation is greatest. The families of those six young women who were burnt to death in the Campus Trendz fire in The City and culminating with the violent demise of those three young men just three days before this big day, along with those before and between this period, need our prayers and comfort. The family of late Prime Minister David Thompson would especially be impacted as he was born on Christmas Day.
Hopefully their deaths, whether violent or through illness, will like Jesus Christ’s, not be in vain.