World view, inspiration, self-help
The messages of Christmas that we are bombarded with since more than a month, are not very uplifting.
When I open my Inbox it is filled up with reminders from companies to buy a Christmas outfit. New dress, new shoes, they tell me what I urgently need, although beforehand I was quite content without these items. Also every single day since about a month I get invitations to start organizing my Christmas presents for my loved ones. Often with a threatening tone that there is limited time to get these goods and if I miss out I might be unhappy forever. It seems as if every business wants now a piece of the X-mas money cake. All is offered to a special Christmas prize naturally.
With a sensation of mental overload I open up Netflix to escape for an hour the emptiness of material consumption. Yes, I want to get into the true spirit of Christmas.
I put ‘Christmas’ into the Search engine and wait eagerly for my inspiration and upliftment and here is what I am presented
Some of the titles are "Christmas inheritance", "Holiday secrets", "Christmas breakin" "Holiday Rush", "Holiday on the Wild" , "Elf" , "The Knight before Christmas", "Klaus", "Bad moms Christmas".....and so on.
I scroll through it and with an empty feeling of disgust I conclude that we are slowly losing the Messages of Christmas. I turn to my home and check what I can find in the many beautiful books I have in my bookshelves. Something will inspire me there.
Lost Messages of Christmas
In one of my bookshelves I find following article in a magazine for spiritual consciousness, written by Okey Ikechukwu. My heart warms up to find that there are still other people who also yearn for the true meaning of Christmas again.
Christmas! Remember the carols and inner, quiet joy. We would sing for hours, even after everyone had gone. There was such gladness in preparing for Christmas! As happy-go-lucky children we pranced about cheerfully without really being able to explain why. We were just happy and strangely expectant. It was as if we could do nothing wrong. Things that would ordinarily cause irritation or a quarrel were strangely easy to ignore or forgive, yet none of us could put a finger on the source of our joy. It was Christmas time and we were happy.
We took part in a Nativity drama as children, we put on a Christmas drama. Adults directed and supervised everything. They were rather fussy and demanding. Some of them did not even look happy. As children, we just did not understand adults at all. They seemed to find it difficult to do many simple things, especially the things that made people happy. We had always suspected that there was something fundamentally wrong with most adults.
Today we are the adults and the children may well be holding their breath as they observe all of us.
There are just a few weeks before this year’s Christmas and many families are preparing for the celebrations. It usually seizes some people like a fever but it is often a contrived and avoidable fever, directed at the wrong activities. Many shop owners are doing brisk business with the season’s supply of plastic Santa Claus and similar things.
Christmas greeting cards have flooded the market. Most of the cards talk about everything except the true meaning and purpose of Christmas. It is more popular to speak of ‘season’s greetings’ now. So is the reference to the harmattan season, winter, or to the climate and season in some unchartered regions of space? Should we not be talking about the significance of Christmas and using this season to rededicate ourselves to a spiritually uplifting life? That, after all, is the essence of the commemoration of the birth on earth of the Son of God. ‘Merry Christmas!’ many greeting cards scream out, and quite literally that is what many of us intend to do, have fun and make merry.
The inner adornment of the spirit before the Almighty is now replaced by our new earthly clothes. Tailors and boutiques take full advantage of this. Some harassed, impious husbands, frightened by the demands of the ‘season’, confront their wives:” Don’t you know that it is vanity which makes you think of new clothes. In any case remember the global economic meltdown and think of starving people all over the world”! So quarrels break out over preparations for Christmas, which have nothing to do with Christmas. No wonder we adults seem to have lost that joy we had as children.
We hear less and less of “Thy Will be done, O Lord” from believers each passing Christmas. There are endless demands instead. These demands are for wealth, job promotion, getting married and so on. Humility and the necessary quiet confidence in the Omnipotence of the Lord are missing.
The supplicants, metaphorically speaking, tap their feet impatiently for a quick solution to some problem before they present the next one! While waiting, they may be mentally planning to try another prayer house if their request is not forthcoming.
Say something about confidence in the providential guidance and omniscience of the Lord and you will hear that such talk is for children. The in-thing now, you will be told, is to demand it; or claim it, as they like to say. The book of Jeremiah may even be quoted: “The children of God shout for joy”. Ask them whether “children of God” is the same thing as “members of my assembly” and you will meet a blank and perplexed stare.
Today, it is a lot more difficult to find images, statuettes or models of the shepherds and the child in the manger. Or likely such is found against fifty Christmas trees and a hundred images of Santa Claus. But is Christmas not about the birth of Jesus Christ! Apart from Father Christmas there is little to see or hear about the real Christmas nowadays.
What, for instance, do Christmas presents signify? For some, it is about love. But can the exchange of earthly presents once a year represent the Love which Jesus embodied? Many adults can remember how they prayed in front of the manger when they were children. They may even remember asking the infant Jesus to bless and make them good human beings who would grow up to lead little children to Him. They are now leading their children instead to Santa Claus. This behaviour may echo Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher, who said: “There was only one true Christian; and He was crucified.”
Do we still think about the true meaning of hymns about how the angel appeared to the shepherds and how it was first necessary to calm them down, before announcing that “A Saviour, Who is Christ the Lord” was born? Why do adults who experienced Christmas differently remain indifferent while the coming of the three wise men and the Star of Bethlehem do not feature in Christmas-related events at all?
One thing is sure today: we have lost the Message of Christmas. It is all now nothing more than a thriving global business. It is about the manufacturing and exporting of seasonal goods, just the way drapers stock up for summer or Halloween. Children and young adults now speak of Christmas presents and how we should show love by exchanging them. So that is it?
How could Santa Claus have become a part of Christmas celebrations to the extent that the bearded figure of pagan antecedents has displaced the Child in the Manger? If Jesus Christ came to this world to bring salvation to mankind, then something of that message ought to be conveyed at Christmas. Of course, we hear of a new type of Christian salvation: Freedom from material needs, successful career, financial windfalls, and so on. In total: Christianity without the Cross! Without the Living Truth brought to us on that Holy Night! And so we breed a new generation of Christians of whom many might say:” They cannot possibly have read the scriptures at all”.
As the world prepares for this year’s Christmas, let us begin by placing less emphasis on the festivities. I fear we have all travelled too far down the wrong road. Much havoc has already been caused. Peer pressure is everywhere. One thing about pressure is that it sweeps away everything that does not resist it. Whatever resists it establishes its identity and affirms its right to exist, as the Nigerian proverb says: the tree that cannot resist the wind perishes.
Edeltraud Jakob Grace:
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