Today is December the 8th, and Christmas is coming. I love Christmas. I love the tinsel, carols and cooking, the lights, the smells and the fun. Most of all, I love the Christmas story. This blog hasn’t featured anything about my personal belief system, but today I decided that I’d write about it. Personal beliefs divide people enormously, which is why I’ve been quite hesitant to write about mine, particularly on a blog which features my writing.
And then I thought: Why should I be fearful of writing about the stuff that is most important to me?
Immediately I thought: Well, I’ll be judged.
Followed straight away by: And if someone judges my writing, not by what I’ve written, but by what I believe, then what does that say about them, and not me?
So I am going to write about the Christmas story, because I love it. And I love it, because to me, it tells of the wonder of redemption and love. It tells of fear that is changed to joy, of journeys and beginnings and of sadness and loss.
On one hand we hear about the birth of a child – always a moment of wonder, and at the same time, we hear of a king, so insecure that he orders the death of any child who might be possibly become a threat. We hear of shepherds, stunned and fearful, encountering light and angelic singing, and transformed so amazingly that they rush to view the baby. We hear of wise men, who had travelled vast differences, searching for the king revealed to them in the stars, worshipping, bringing gifts and yet having to travel home by a different way to protect themselves and the baby from the insecure king.
Today I sang carols at our church (Brookside) with our daughter. We sang about the baby, the angels, the parents and the shepherds. Each week, as Christmas draws closer, we’ll sing more songs about the Christmas story, and we’ll read a new portion of it.
At the same time, there will be others saddened by Christmas, by the family members who are missing, by loneliness, by fear or by hatred. Many around the world will not celebrate Christmas in the same way that I do, because they believe differently or don’t believe at all. Others will participate in the fun and joy without belief, while others will celebrate the solstice, Yule or Hanukkah. I have no problems with this because we all make our own choices, and sadly, we won’t all agree. But we can choose to get along and still respect each other, unlike the insecure King Herod.
I thought I’d finish this post by quoting a couple of verses that never cease to move me. They are completely contrasting. The first one is about the shepherds, and the second about the horror of Herod the King, murdering babies for fear of his throne.
“An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”
“When Herod realised that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
“A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.””