Monday, December 22, 2008

Annual Scrooge Blog

It’s time for my annual Scrooge Letter. I hate Christmas…bah humbug. I hate the commercialism, the hypocrisy of gift giving and the expectations from people I care little about (I have an irritating nephew who I see maybe twice a year, who acts offended when we don’t buy him something). Okay, that’s a bit harsh, but needless to say (I know if it’s needless, why say it), December 25th is not my favorite day of the year.

The only redeeming part of Christmas is being with family (but not all of our family will be together and if you've been reading previous posts you know it will not be a festive time for the extended family). Of course the food is a definite Yule Tide plus and we’re talking quantity as well as quality. This year it will be chicken, ham and brisket…a meat-lovers version of heaven along with the side order of sweet potatoes, broccoli salad, green salad, my mom’s homemade hot rolls, walnut and chocolate pie. I’m sure Mary and Joseph had a similar spread in the cow stalls of Bethlehem.

I use to be fascinated with the Christmas story, but as I get older I see it from such a different perspective. You really do have to be a believer in Christ to believe the Christmas narrative, because on face value, it’s just a very weird story (only post moderns will confess this openly). The virgin conceiving, angels appearing to shepherds in the fields to announce His birth, wise men traveling with gifts for a king, all sound pretty far-fetched. The only thing in the story I get is taxation by Governor Herod (representing all politicians) as death and taxes are historical/universal constants; Mary and Joseph having to sleep in a barn, which may have been just as comfortable as a first century inn. The Son of God as a baby, the one who created all things being fed and changed? Sorry, my mind doesn’t even want to go there.

If you are a believer you accept anything that is far-fetched. Ganesh riding on a rat; Mohammed, the illiterate writing the Koran or the angel Moroni appearing to another illiterate by the name of Joseph Smith who founded the Mormon church. And how about the secularist who place their far-fetched beliefs in the scientist who do their best to manipulate data to convince the unenlightened that the whole universe is the result of a cosmic accident and who now tell us that only the insane would not believe in man-made global warming.

Here’s the deal, we choose to believe what we want to believe. The Christmas story is not logical, but unless you have no use for the metaphysical, it is supernaturally plausible. Theologically I can’t accept a divine birth that was the product of human union. I’m not going to pick the story apart just to make it more acceptable to my finite understanding. God isn’t interested in my theological engineering to make all the pieces fit. Faith is that thing we don’t understand but we accept it anyway. The Master of the universe doesn’t read the polls, and is not concerned whether man comprehends everything about Himself. With finiteness comes mystery. The Christmas story is one of those great mysteries of God. So, as a follower of the Christ I accept that He was born that He might die for my salvation. I acknowledge it on the basis of total blind faith. It may not make sense to me and perhaps that fact alone may be the best argument for why the Bethlehem scene is true. While I may hate the season for what modern man has made of it, now a global holiday for even the infidels, I still like the fact that God loved me so much that He would send Immanuel (God with us) to this earth to live and die for my salvation. So, in spite of distaste for the day, MERRY CHRISTMAS…but I’m still not buying my nephew a present.