Nativity scene at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, in the historic Barelas neighborhood, Albuquerque, NM, Jan 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in
mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”
“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”
“Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childhood days, recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth, and transport the traveler back to his own fireside and quiet home!”
Isn’t it great to look forward to Christmas again? Christmas in New York is different from the one in e.g. Sydney, – different again for cities where they don’t celebrate Christmas at all. It is more an event in the Western world than in the Eastern world.
But for us who celebrate Christmas we tend to look forward, to be with family and friends, to share presents perhaps. To have simply a good time together!
Some do like it and others don’t like it. And so be it!
If you don’t like this article try to read it again with Christmas, – if you need to think about it! .. Sometimes you need to read things twice.
Christmas is about a human life example. Jesus born more than 2000 years ago and being created as a force of love as planned by his Father. Whilst many people did resonate with his words of “freedom”, freedom from a different kind, – the powers in authority did not like Jesus Christ
one bit and decided to kill him.
The story of the birth of Jesus Christ
has been repeated in endless variations but the crux of the story should or could be that we are reminded on what he tried to bring on earth as a set of principles perhaps (or examples), – rather than his birth itself. He did not consider his birth himself important as an event to celebrate. Far more the message and instructions he left. To celebrate the last and to live this out is more important and is actually a way of having Christmas at heart.
History turned it into a celebration of his birth with Christmas trees
and presents, which is really fine, – however Christmas as such never existed shortly after Jesus died. He did not ask for it. He asked for different things.
The celebrations of this kind are strictly man-made as many things are man-made, which does not take away the positives of reminding the birth of Christ at heart.
All the care kindness and understanding besides the love you can master are the greatest contributions you can make beyond Christmas, if you are prepared to consider Christmas not only as a yearly memory amidst candlelight about the birth of Jesus Christ, but as “the birth” of a set of ideas which was created with the life of Jesus Christ. Radical in his manifestation during his lifetime.
Choices this direction will make life never anymore as it was before. We can change our lives with the love we give into our relationships, regardless the level of encounters we may have. It is summarised in the commend to love your neighbor as yourself. It manifest itself in kindness, support, gratitude and any other positive feelings towards others. The fundamental issue is not how others behave but how we respond in the day-to-day things, turning away from negativity where possible.
Perhaps Christmas is about you, what you are able to give both in your spare
time and non spare time. It is about what you are feeling as well in any
circumstances as this at some extend is determining your actions. Love
does resolve negatives at most levels in relationships, at most
dimensions of human life.
It’s a bit of a different look at it, isn’t it?
If the spirit of a real Christmas which never existed could call again from
long and dark centuries ago, it would not argue the yearly ritual around
in modern times. There is no harm in it whatsoever even if we celebrate the things being less important in life, but for some only important at the end of each year.
Christianity through centuries has been both colourful and cruel, both full of love and hate through institutions, both full of evolution with sense and senseless destruction. The celebration of Christmas went on during war’s and other destructions of life. But Christmas itself is time for families and friends being together as a tradition closing in on the end of the year, with shops full of lights and houses with colourful trees and presents. Whilst this has little to do with the birth of Christ
there is noting against it either. In certain parts of the world it is part of a human tradition to celebrate events and the repetition of celebrating such events through the year seems to be important in the way history evolved. At times it is very important for family life. The nice flavour, the nice atmosphere etc.
If human kind
, or better those who are interested, for a moment are able to think about the real meaning of the life of Jesus, – we don’t need as such to celebrate his birth but concentrate on what he left as a legacy to be worked out, the last before he went back to our Father in Heaven
. This is more than simply celebrating his birthday so to say and having Boxing Day
afterwards. Again, nothing against it, – it’s all fine! It’s a time for family at the end of each year and everybody may define it his or her own way.
During the recent events around the death of Nelson Mandela
thing was that many world leaders came together and tried to captivate in their own words what Mandela did for his country and some other countries. No one was able however to summarise this forgiving spirit into a unifying effort perhaps for a more complete world, – still in waiting.
So is Christmas not necessarily a repetitive yearly story to be told in Churches or celebrated under the Christmas tree, but possibly it could be more the repetitive effort how the world of Christ may come through in our time and circumstances. As a force of the best possible human efforts. Some would say we owe this to creation. Others would say we owe this to this world and its people. Few would say we owe this to God.
It is easier to dream about “realities” and not to work towards realities. It is easier to think about things never happening before and say “why” rather than to think about things which have never been before and say “Why not?”. It is easier to feel pain free without such a journey rather than feeling the pain of “the world living in us and we living in this world” during such a journey, – despite enjoyment we may feel about the gift of life and the colourful tapestry we may have experienced till so far.
Love is not the biological reproduction
of life only, or the pleasure related with this, – but far more the spiritual reproduction of DNA
to reduce the hardship in peoples life, to reduce the suffering, to reduce violence, to reduce the risk of war and to end criminal efforts of those who make e.g human trafficking and modern slavery their business. Those are e.g. the efforts which should not stop after yearly Christmas celebrations. The biggest criminals may have Christmas trees in their homes as well, – but take a day off with Christmas!
At the end of the day it all comes to the joint efforts to improve life rather than to destruct it. And all those things start in our own world, in our own imagination and desires, in our own community and countries and within our own circle of people we know.
We are not made to stand aside but we are made to take part. We are not made to stay in idle hope but we are made to carry the spirit forward in the firm belief that life is worthwhile living, in the knowledge that this world is far from perfect. Our decisions need to be based on the simple fact that it is better to love than to hate, regardless that loving does not mean allowing anyone else to abuse us.
To embrace human kind for what it is, more is required to make Christmas in your own heart real. An effort to create a better world where the old world
For each of us applies the question how much of our abilities and good fortune can be kept for us alone or need to be shared with others. Christmas that way can be an awesome and life changing experience.
A most famous bush doctor who went out to Lambarena in Gabon the last century to build a hospital for the locals said once to someone who was wondering how to serve best: “Every one can create his or her own Lambarena.” The person who asked this did it her own way, using her own creativity and talents. It was amazing the way she did it, different obviously but unique and simple. It is amazing how many other good things happen as well, often unnoticed. It is amazing as well how many people in essence are of good heart.
Nelson Mandela could have said: ” For those living in countries like South Africa in the past – under oppression – any one may ask what he or she may contribute to the reduction of tyranny and improve eventually, where possible, the process of reconciliation with the power of forgiveness”.
It is my feeling that he could have said it this way, as he did not say it as such as far as I am aware.
Feelings are important, they may start with a strong and positive thought, which may result in strong and positive action and if this action does resonate it will bring change for communities countries and the world.
With Christmas at heart we may say that Jesus could have said: ” The most important things for human beings here on earth is not to look only for the success rate of one’s own job and family, but look at the eternal Father first and love your neighbour as yourself then.”
He said it slightly differently but that does not matter. But with the awareness of Christ’s intentions in our heart we may be faced with different questions, for each of us to be answered in our own life and “worked on” in our own circumstances. For those who want to face this it is both a joy and struggle to work this out, a way of questioning yourself at times. Not always easy!
There is still increasing hunger and oppression, an increasing shift of people trying to move from one continent to the other, people smugglers who enrich themselves at a cost of far too many human lives , women and children.
Countless children are used for the sex industry. New recreational drugs appearing on the market show at times to be more lethal than before and can be delivered at your house per internet order, screwing up at least the minds of young people. One can’t turn a blind eye to the increasing yearly death toll as due to unlawful gun violence in the US and other countries.
If we can’t resolve those problems in peacetime, civilisation is not by any means able to resolve such problems at war-time. No reconciliation is able to undo the torture of women and children and the culprits of those acts against humanity should face the justice systems of their own countries. People e.g. who ignore the right of children to live may lose the right to live themselves as they compromise what needs to be our future, and the power of love does not need to accept what can’t be reconciled anymore when people make it their business to destruct and torture human lives.
When love is able affecting the trillions of body cells in one human being to work together with more harmony and less illness, – the same love resonating in a trillion of human beings may change the world by an unstoppable force of energy. That could be the most spectacular Christmas ever. That would be the most abundant reposition for the future.
It’s a dream!
What we do with the intent of Christmas will show in the direction the future takes.
The question is what we are going to do about it and what our own personal response will be for our own future, amidst all the choices we have. It is for all of us finding the right balance.
Hence Christmas is neither a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy is part of having the real spirit of Christmas. And those who have not Christmas in their heart, for certain, – will never find it under a tree.
Paul Alexander Wolf
“Anyone who thinks sitting in Church can make you a Christian must also think that sitting in a garage can make you a car.”
― Garrison Keillor
One thought on “Christmas of the best kind?”
Greetings from Atlanta: City of Peace. Dr. Wolf, your article was very inspiring. What an AWESOME ‘Christmas gift’ you have delivered to your readers and followers. As a sailor, you have astutely “trimmed the sails” and gotten us back on course for celebrating the real meaning of Christmas. Thanks!
Here are several quotes from your article that particularly resonated with me. You stated: “Christmas that way can be an awesome and life changing experience.” When you said that it reminded me of these great quotes…
Charles Dickens stated:
“I will honor Christmas in my heart,
and try to keep it all the year.”
Benjamin Franklin stated:
“A good conscience is a continual Christmas.”
Dr. Wolf, I really enjoyed learning about that quote: “Every one can create his own Lambarena.” Not having known about Lambarena, I went and did some Google Research and discovered it was a statement that came from Dr. Albert Schweitzer! I then learned that in 1911 he arrived on Lambarena in Gabon, Africa where a medical mission was needed. I also learned that “when faced with a lack of initial resources” he created his initial makeshift office in an old chicken coop and that he initially treated around 40 patients each day and that, alongside his medical service, he taught about Jesus: The Prince of Peace, and gave examples from nature about the need to act for the benefit of others.
I was also amazed to learn he became a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate in 1952, the year I was born, plus that Dr. Schweitzer was a big ‘fan’ of Johann Sebastian Bach. At that time, I was excited to discover this Youtube video tribute (below) to Dr. Schweitzer. This video & soundtrack wonderfully includes some drums of Gabon, Bach’s musical creation “St. John’s passion” AND also great images of Dr. Schweitzer.
Lambarena – “Herr unser Herrscher”
(translated “Lord, our master”)
Dr. Wolf, thank you again for returning Christ to Christmas through your article. I also enjoyed your point about Mandela. You stated: “During the recent events around the death of Nelson Mandela the positive thing was that many world leaders came together and tried to captivate in their own words what Mandela did for his country and some other countries. No one was able however to summarise this forgiving spirit into a unifying effort perhaps for a more complete world, – still in waiting.”
I think it may be beyond us, as mortal individuals, to encapsulate within a tribute the great contributions that Nelson ‘Madiba’ Mandela has made to humanity and our global family… just as it would other great leaders. Here is a “GREAT list” for me:
Messiah – Mohandas – Martin – Mother* – Madiba
Thanks again for your inspiring article.
John R. Naugle
Here’s an inspiring tribute to Madiba:
“Woolies and Soweto Gospel Choir: Madiba Tribute”
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