Friday, December 18, 2009

The Sacred Season

Now, just a few short days before Christmas, we enter the sacred season. The joy is palpable. The anticipation is almost too much to bear. The fulfillment of dreams is about to be reenacted again and again. For this is the season of the coming of the Christ Child. A time of great joy and jubilation because of what it means to each and every one of us.

It is so easy in this season of secular bargain hunting to lose sight of why we do all of the things we do during this time. We hunt for goods at clearance prices as though our very existence depended upon it. We gather with family and friends much as we do in the summer time but there is a different feel to the gathering. Something is different about when we get together at this time of the year as opposed to the middle of July for a picnic. There is a sense of joy and wonder even though we may not give voice to these things. We may very well exchange gifts with these friends, but even if we don't, there is a distinct feeling that we seldom feel throughout the rest of the year. We feel that we are actually gifts to one another.

Why all of these feelings? Why do we run about collecting goods, giving them away to those we feel closest to? Why do we bother to put in hours upon hours at work and then, at the end of such a busy day, exhausted, we head out to the local merchant to pick up a few "last minute items"? Have we lost our minds?

Some would say that we have. Others don't know for certain why we do all of this, we just know that in December at this time of year, it is what we do!

Pause for a moment, though, and contemplate the reason behind all this hubbub. Why do we often drive ourselves crazy going through these annual rituals? The answer is quite simple, really. The reason for all of this activity, the reason for all the gift giving and warm feelings is the reason for our very existence--Jesus Christ.

We are not simply celebrating the birthday of Jesus. He wasn't even born at this time of year! We are celebrating in our gatherings, our gift giving, our shopping, and all the other activities we take on at this time of year because we know that we owe our lives and eternal existence with God to Him.

This is not only a sacred season, but a season of humility. Not our own humility for very few of us could truly be called humble! This is a season that celebrates not only the birth of the Son of God, but also a time to contemplate and remember the humility of God. God, humble? How?

God, the Creator of the universe, is far above us in every way. He is perfection. He is dignity. His is integrity. He is all that is good. He is love. Because of His great love for us we came into being. And because of His endless mercy, we have eternal life if we but follow His will. The greatest act of humility any one of us could ever witness is that of the Creator becoming a part of His very own creation for the express purpose of rescuing us, His very creation.

This is the Incarnation, that special time of year when man and nature bow in humility before the God of us all. It matters not whether you are Christian or Jew. Muslim or Mormon. Hindu or Buddhist. The Lord God is God of us all and we all owe our very salvation to His saving works. This is truth, truth that Jesus would speak of to Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, some thirty-three years after the event we are about to celebrate later this week. The more we truly understand the great humility that God has shown in this act of Incarnation, the more joy we will begin to experience. The lights and decorations of the season will take on an even greater warmth and glow. Our customs and traditions will become more meaningful because we have returned to our spiritual roots. Our joy will be more complete because we have paused, thought, contemplated why it is we do what we do at this time of year.

So let us join together in our families and amidst our friends and celebrate one another as the Creator celebrates us. Let us place our lives ever in His presence so that we may never forget that the reason we celebrate this season of Christmas has nothing to do with us and everything to do with Him. As our minds travel back through two thousand years of history to that scene on that chilly night in Bethlehem, let us gaze upon the face of the Christ Child and give Him thanks and homage for His saving presence and thanks for one another through whom we experience in the greatest of ways, His love!