Christmas 2013: where are we now and where are we going?

Amidst all the hustle and bustle of this Christmas season, a thought struck me.  I began to wonder where as a soceity our focus is.  Is it on material things or is it on the simple things that make what would be a dull and dreary life in this world a life instead filled with meaning and love, all the things that make life worth living?  Where are we now, as a society?  And where are we headed?

The rampant commercialization of Christmas, brought to light in the classic “Miracle on 34th St.” movie, has wrought devastating effects.  Our society has become so focused on the material, that we have neglected the fact that Christmas isn’t really about what material things we can get out of our parents or an employee donning the suit of the jolly big guy in red.  It is about reflecting and celebrating the point in time that God gave us His greatest gift: the gift of Himself, wrapped up in the most frail and unassuming of packages, the human body.  A staggering thing to imagine: that all God was, is, and ever shall be, could co-exist inside a human nature so fragile that it is easily bruised and broken.  This is the ultimate Christmas gift, is it not, for God to humble himself?  And should we not then do likewise?

Shouldn’t such an event give us pause?  Should we not consider, perhaps, that this is a clarion call to ever strive to become the best version of ourselves that we could possibly ever be?  Christ raised the bar on human existence.  He transformed an ordinary existence into something extraordinary, something to be cherished.  With Christ this existence then becomes a chance to touch other people’s lives with the best example of Christ’s love we can manage.

And yet every Christmas season, because of the rampant commercialism brainwashing soceity to think that Christmas is all about the material and that if your child doesn’t get the latest toy this season then he’ll hate you forever, I see so many people pushing and shoving each other and getting frustrated with each other, something even I’ve been guilty of from time to time.  Isn’t this supposed to be a time to wish our fellow man peace and goodwill?  To reflect on the awesome gift that is God, Incarnate in flesh?  And yet this gift of an Incarnate God was also as brutally opened in the same fashion as we open our regular gifts: the packaging violently torn to shreds.  But unlike with our regular gifts, the gift that poured forth as Christ’s flesh, God’s human packaging, was torn asunder, is a gift that shall last unto the end of time: the prospect that we may one day be reunited with a Divine and Loving and Merciful God upon completion of our mortal existence.  This gift is such a simple gift and yet gives many people’s lives in this world such great meaning and purpose.

And yet this gift sees widespread rejection in this new age of skepticism.  Skepticism can be a great tool, this desire to question things.  It allows us to be wary of falsehoods and of men who claim powers that you know they could possibly never have.  But, taken to extremes, skepticism can rob us of belief in the simple things that make this existence worth living.  We now, as a society, are witnessing the rise of human arrogance, the place where unbridled skepticism can lead.  Unbridled skepticism leads human beings to think that because reason tells us it cannot be so, then it is not so and can never ever be so.  And yet we can plainly see that living by reason alone leads to a dreary existence indeed.  And is it any wonder then, that with the rejection of God’s most awesome and gracious Christmas present to us, that we are now seeing an increase in the number of Ebenezer Scrooges in our world?

Father in Heaven, hear my prayers that the whole world may come to accept Your most beautiful gift into their hearts.  That one day all divisions and strife shall cease and instead of pushing and shoving each other in the stores in order to fulfill the corrupted commercialized vision of Christmas, we may greet each other with Christ-like warmth and joy as we patiently pass each other in search of the gifts that show our families just how much we love and appreciate them.  Amen.