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Christmas: A Brand Violated

25 Dec 2012

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Edifying Elucidations By Okey Ikechukwu. Email, okey.ikechukwu@thisdaylive.com

Picture a child walking up to you and looking somewhat perplexed. The little fellow unsure, whether to ask you the question you can see lingering on the young lips or not. Then it pops out: “Please is this the real Christmas, or shall we wait for the other one?” By the other Christmas the child has in mind the Christmas during which people are said to talk about Jesus Christ, man’s spiritual salvation, going to heaven, remembering the good things that Christ taught mankind, etc.

This image of a perplexed child asking about Christmas may seem an unlikely scenario to many, but it is not. The real message of Christmas does not exist in what is masquerading under that umbrella everywhere today. That is why any child or adult for that matter, who sets out to find the Christmas in these events, celebrations and parties will be appalled and scandalised. The symbols under which Christmas is now celebrated, like bags of sweet, silly toys and Father Christmas, have nothing whatsoever to do with the real thing. There are no genuine reminders about the meaning of Christianity, no mementoes or artworks of the birth scene with the Star of Bethlehem shining over it. There is no talk about the meaning of this special star, the heavenly Herald who spoke to the shepherds, and much more. There is also nothing about the three wise men. That is why the commercial wing of our modern Revised Standard Version of Christmas are shockingly few with images of the manger, the wise men, etc. on sale. It is easy to picture the attitude: dirty stable, lousy shepherds, some crouching three wise men and, maybe a couple of goats with catarrh? That’s not as ‘cool’ as the nonsense that now takes Christmas in vain for all of us.

Again, let us resort to imagination. Picture that you are a little child. You have never been to town. It’s just you, the village church and your grandma. Granny, by the way, has a heart of gold; being a good, kindly old woman full of sundry stories about Christmas. She once told you about the three wise men. She also once made such a moving story about the Star of Bethlehem; the child in the manger, etc. Now that you have come into civilisation you are looking for the

signs of Christmas. There is none. You will then be caught between saying outright that your grandma’s tales about it may well have been fabricated. For good measure, let us consider how most Christians may have prepared for this Christmas. Shop owners stocked up on plastic images of Santa Claus of various sizes. This is quite apart from the completely animated version of Santa, some of them much bigger than a full grown adult. This wired up Father Christmas can dance to any type of music, including obscene renditions that will make a true Christian suspect that Armageddon had sneaked up on him without warning. This gyrating Santa has become the vogue.

Lest we forget tree lights were purchased by the dozens. Here there is also the option of buying the regular lights, or the one that sings Christmas carols. Never mind that it may cost you some effort to confirm that it is actually the carol you know that is playing in the irritating whine that comes with the lights.  Then the Christmas tree is all hung up with various shiny things, including an unsorted combination of alphabets. The mantra that created all this is: ‘Christmas just has to happen’. Nothing must go wrong. The children are looking forward to it with shining eyes things. Poor, swindled children! What they are getting is obviously not the Christmas that would offer them the spiritual benefits of the Sacred Mission of Christ.

Where is Christ, the Redeemer, in all of that we have on display today in the name of Christmas? We hear of season’s greetings, all right. What we do not hear is the season we are dealing with. Pray, do ‘seasons’ greetings refer to the harmattan, winter or what? If Christmas is a season of love, what does this love consist of? When people say that Christ came to save mankind, what is it He came to save them from? What did He bring and how are we to know whether we are benefitting from it or not? Are the majority of Christians focusing on this at the moment? How many are desperately explaining all these to the children, assuming they themselves understand it? What did they do to deserve this robbery? Why should parents do everything within their power to offer children Christian memorials that are so thoroughly divested of the message of Christmas? It’s all about picnics, greeting cards, tailors, fashion houses and new wears, I guess.

On a lighter note, but still on the matter at hand, lean pockets are under pressure to put up some tolerable performance. Some financially challenged husbands may well have surprised themselves at their own creativity, regarding why they did not kill a Christmas goat. Who knows, some may have decreed temporary vegetarianism for the family; that is if they did not suddenly announce that they had changed their faith temporarily – confronting expectant family members with the declaration:  “I am now Muslim”. But back to the substantive issue of Christmas.

The point of raising the issues about the essence of Christmas is perhaps Christendom just has to return to the fact that Christ came to this world to present mankind with the opportunity for eternal life. This means that His life on earth was all about showing human beings how to escape live according to the will of God and escaping eternal damnation. This is salvation from spiritual death that is the second death from which there can be no awakening. Surely that is not a prominent component of the Christmas celebration menu right now. If Christ’s kingdom were of this world, He would have taken on the Romans who occupied Israel at the time. He said that He had come so that mankind may have life and have it more abundantly. But do we really understand this statement? Are even making genuine efforts in that regard?

The Christmas season is a good time for us to remember that Real Life exists in God Almighty alone. As Creator and Giver of life, He and He alone, has the power through which other entities can come into being.

Unlike everything in existence, which depends on Him in order to exist, God is completely independent. Being totally self-sufficient, completely autonomous and the only truly Living One, God is Life Itself - totally incapable of being enriched by what any entity has to offer. That is why he is the origin of being, or being itself, in the most strict and proper sense of the term. It is in this sense that we can thus speak of Him as that which is and which cannot but be; and without which nothing can be. It is also for this reason that the Almighty is not a “that”, speaking here in terms of: “Definitio fit per genus proximum, et differentiam specificam”.

If the fad nowadays is not to let anyone remember the true meaning of Christmas, especially during the season ostensibly dedicated to it, then something is dreadfully wrong with the spiritual future of mankind. If you add this to the fact that today we hear less and less of “Thy Will be done, o’ Lord” from the believers all through the year you may well consider the implications for man’s true spirituality. There are demands instead, and these demands are all about wealth, promotion in the office, getting a wife and more. Some of the supplicants may well be tapping their feet impatiently for a quick solution to the problem, mentally threatening to try another church, or even another deity, if their desires delays in coming.

Let us reflect on the true meaning of the hymns: how the angel came among the shepherds and how it was first necessary to calm the shepherds down, before telling them that: “A Saviour, Who is Christ the Lord” was born? Why is it that adults who had a different type of Christmas do not worry that the three wise men rarely feature in Christmas-related events and stories nowadays? And where is the Star of Bethlehem in all of this; the same star that used to be talked about with shining eyes? How come it all now have nothing more than a thriving global business, about the manufacturing and exporting of seasonal goods, just the way clothiers stock up for summer or Halloween? How did Santa Claus take over our Christmas celebrations and whom is he working for? How did he displace the child in the manger? If our Lord Jesus Christ came to this world to bring salvation to mankind, then that should be the central message of Christmas. It is not the central message at the moment. As a brand, it stands diminished and violated - by those who believe they are projecting it.

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