By JIM “PAPPY” MOORE
I enjoy the Christmas season for all the good things it brings. I love the songs and the stories, both those based upon the Bible and those based upon popular culture.
Biblical scholars almost unanimously agree that Jesus could not have been born in the winter. We are never told in the Bible the date of his birth, but the presence of shepherds watching their flocks by night indicates a time of year not in the dead of winter.
We are told the story of the birth of Jesus and the importance of it, which suggests it is the story of His arriving, not the date of His arrival, which matters. History reveals that the adoption of December 25th as the date on which his birthday would be celebrated was picked to coincide with a pagan winter holiday.
We also know that Jesus never said we should celebrate his birth. Jesus did say “if you love me, keep my commandments.” Our focus when celebrating the birth of Jesus should therefore be obeying his commandments.
What would Jesus think of our celebrations of Christmas? Would he be pleased at the excesses of people rushing on Black Friday to buy their Christmas gifts? Would he do to the cashiers at the big box stores what he did to the money changers in the temple? Would he castigate us for lavishing ourselves with gifts while largely ignoring the basic needs of so many among us?
Jesus IS the reason for the season. But his lessons are of piety, not of wrapping ourselves in the trappings of a largely commercial holiday. Jesus told us not to stand up in public and offer prayers to God, but to go into a closet and pray in solitude. Jesus told us not to make our charitable efforts known to others, to get the praise such efforts would garner. He told us to make them so our right hand didn’t know what our left hand was doing.
Jesus told us not to judge others. He told us to make certain our heart was in the right place, not consumed with the accumulation of earthly wealth.
Wearing religion for public show is the opposite of what Jesus taught, of what he demanded of those who followed him. His teachings have disdain for those who embrace sanctimony over humility.
The real war on Christmas is the one each of us must fight within ourselves. Are we devoted to the teachings of Jesus, or are we merely pursuing earthly dogma we have adopted? Are we living his commandments, or are we pushing upon others the things we have invented as add-on components to Christianity?
Jesus cares about how we conduct our lives, day in and day out, three hundred sixty-five days a year. He told us to take the log out of our own eye, and then we might better see the speck in our brother’s eye. The Christmas lesson I have is the one I preach to myself. I remind myself that it IS better to give than to receive, and that I do not need anything material that anyone can give me. I remind myself that true charity is love for others, and that a Good Samaritan may not believe everything I believe, or practice everything I practice.
Jesus. His teachings are the reason for the season.
Copyright 2021, Jim “Pappy” Moore. All rights reserved.