When I wrote the Advent Calendar which I published in my December blog, I was once again reminded of the depth of meaning of that first Christmas, especially when reading the songs of Zechariah, Mary and Simeon. All these were full of theological statements concerning the promised Messiah ( Jesus) many from the prophets of the Old Testament, and this was in stark contrast to the shallowness of Christmas celebrated in the commercial world. I cannot comprehend how any Christian can not be in awe and wonder when visiting the Christmas story of the Bible.
Consequently, I was very interested in an article by Greg Sheridan in the Weekend Australian newspaper, 22-23rd December 2018, and so I have decided to quote some of that article here.
"...in the end, without its core religious message, everything else about Christmas is just tinsel. There is a world of difference between tinsel with a purpose and tinsel just there to distract.
"You cannot come to any meaningful encounter with Christmas without comprehending its revolutionary supernatural transcendent religious claims. The gospel accounts of the conception and birth of Jesus are uncompromising. Mary was a virgin and Jesus is the Son of God. The good happy sentimentality of Christmas.......nonetheless tends to obscure just how radical and revolutionary this account is."
The Gospels and the rest of the New Testament are full of the claims of divinity and eternity - "Jesus said 'I am the resurrections and the life.'"
"The sheer outrageousness of this claim is so breathtaking that there are really only three ways to respond:deny it altogether, accept it with all its mystery or ignore it."
Mr Sheridan goes on to say that many churches and the secular world would like Christianity to go - maintain the good works etc but forget forget the Christian message of sin and forgiveness.
"Some had asked 'can we not emphasise all the social goods that came from Christianity but leave out the theology?'...Every human being has a tendency to evil and without a basis for goodness, there can be no absolute sense of rejecting evil.....You cannot inspire people on the basis that this story ( Christian/Christmas theology) is untrue and false, but yet is full of merit. If it is untrue it has no claim on anyone's loyalty.
"The truth cannot be reshaped merely to serve the tinsel."
I was quite shocked when I read that article for those were my thoughts entirely but so much better expressed than anything I would write.
May the wonder and joy of that first Christmas be with you all through 2019.