We hear a lot about the “Spirit of Christmas” this time of year. What does it actually mean?
Often, it’s mistaken for jingles, parties, caroling, twinkling lights, decorations, gifts, feasting and other holiday happenings. While these are certainly delightful, they are but manifestations of a deeper reality, without which all the activity can seem pointless, even tiresome.
The true heart of Christmas flows from the heart of God himself, as manifest in the profound gift of redemption, hope and joy offered by the arrival of Christ into a weary and broken world.
In as much as that gift is accepted and incorporated into our hearts, minds and souls, we become extensions – or bearers – of that profound Christmas gift to our family, friends, neighbors and the whole of humanity.
I recently read “A Christmas Carol,” by Charles Dickens, to my younger children. The protagonist, Ebenezer Scrooge, is a man who cannot grasp the point of Christmas. Caroling, presents, time with family, have no appeal to him. They are burdensome and annoying.
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It is not until Scrooge confronts the stark reality of his own impending death and empty selfish existence that the spiritual cataracts fall from his eyes, and he is able to see how empty and miserable his fleeting earthly existence has become.
Once the miserly businessman casts off this false perception of reality, his vision sharpens, and he is able to see – and love – his fellow man in unexpected and startling ways.
It may be easy to dismiss Scrooge as an extreme caricature of a selfish and judgmental curmudgeon, but he actually serves as a both a warning to us all, and a sign of hope. Everyone struggles with vices and pride, but we needn’t be overcome.
To embrace the Christmas Spirit is to be transformed by the joy of Christ – the light of the world.
May this Spirit animate us in the days, weeks and years we are given.
Merry Christmas Alaska!
The views expressed here are those of the author.