To many people, Christmas is a time of giving and sharing, a time when we remember the sick, poor and destitute and prisoners, a time when families socialize and have a common meal, and groups, organisations, public and private sector institutions have staff parties, socials and dinners, it is a time of exchanging gifts.
There is also a lot of commercial activity and importantly the house gets a fair amount of cleaning, the changing of curtains, and sprucing up furniture and painting of interior and exterior walls and for some getting a new refrigerator or stove. We cannot forget the Christmas barrels, sorrel and ginger beer, the black cake, fruit cake, and ham. Christmas trees and lights, Nine Mornings and Nine Nights celebrations, serenading, Christmas carols, songs and parang, Novenas, midnight mass and early morning services.
All these have their place in the celebration of the birth of the Christ child. As we celebrate, however we must remember that Jesus did not remain a baby but he grew up to be the Adult Son of God. In addition, we must note that on the first Christmas Day there were no Christmas trees nor lights as we have today, nor any of the other activities mentioned above. In the Gospel according to Matthew 3: 1-12, Mark 1: 1-8, Luke 3: 1-18 and John 1:1-10, 15, 19-27, there is reference to the need of the people to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. As we celebrate, we cannot simply focus on Jesus the Christ child but on His whole life and ministry which for all intents and purposes includes the reason for which he came.
Christmas is a Christian festival which all people are free to celebrate. However, there is a tendency to forget the ‘reason for the season.’ Yes, it is a time of joy and festivities, but at the same time, we cannot forget to reflect on what sort of relationship we have with God and with our families and people generally. It speaks of a lifelong process of learning what it means to be a people and nation, and understanding what it means to live together in community. We are not all at the same stage of the journey of learning
and understanding and this tends to create disagreements, conflicts and cause us to disappoint and hurt one another. We are on a continuous journey of formation for there is no point at which we are ever fully perfect during our time here on earth. This is where Christmas becomes important for it speaks of the prince of peace, His name shall be called Jesus for He will save His people from their sins. As Paul states in Galatians 3:28:
28There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.
Therefore, may we on a continuous basis acknowledge that we don’t always get it right, no matter our social, economic, religious, intellectual status/background or political affiliation. We must not regard those who have a different perspective on life or on how to address certain issues as being against us, as being trouble makers or of being evil. Christmas calls us to embrace the tensions that emerge as we endeavour to live together in Community and to live with and work through them without belittling or demonizing each other.
This Christmas let us not focus only on Jesus as a baby lying in a manger but also on Jesus the Adult Son of God who came to save and redeem us.