Letters to the Editor

Historians say that Jesus was probably born in the springtime. Apparently Christmas was moved to the 25th of December because the pagan holidays of Germanic “Yule” and Roman “Saturnalia” had previously dominated the season. By moving Christmas to the 25th, early Christians were able to drive out pagan religion. The morality of this move may be in question, but the sentiment behind Christmas is not.

Be it springtime or late December, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered, so that they may be taxed and counted. Among all the world was also a young couple, a man named Joseph and a woman named Mary. Mary was with child, albeit confusingly so, seeing as she was a virgin. This confused Joseph, but an angel was sent to him with a life altering message: Mary was to bear the Savior of the world, and his name was to be Jesus.

I would expect the master of the universe to arrive on Earth in some majestic fashion — bright lights and loud sounds and sights that would hold any mortal captive with fear and awe alike. But that’s not how Jesus came.

Instead it happened a little something like this.

Joseph lived in the town of Nazareth (modern day Israel), but the census required him and his wife to travel to the town of Bethlehem so that they may be counted. Thus came the unmarried Joseph and Mary, a carpenter and a virgin nine months pregnant. Seeing as his wife was very pregnant, Joseph set out for a place to stay. There were none. One man offered up his barn (in Hebrew the word more closely correlates to cave), and they graciously accepted it for lodging. Mary soon began to conceive, and the baby Jesus was born. Seeing as the new family was staying in a barn without a crib, they rested Jesus in a manger, better known as a food trough for farm animals.

Here come the parents of the most important baby ever born, and they can’t find a room. Here is born the true God and true man, the shepherd to lost sheep and the moral authority that governs all Christian’s lives, and he is born out of wedlock. Here lies the ruler of the universe, the great I Am, the Savior, the Alpha and Omega, and he is placed where animals eat their gruel.

The Christmas story goes on. Jesus would be greeted by shepherds after his birth, who were welcomed with the same hospitality as the three wealthy wisemen who hailed from the East, carrying valuable gifts of gold, frankincense and myre. A star would rise and angles would sing. Mary, Joseph and their baby would have to flee the country into Egypt because King Herod wanted to kill the newborn “King of the Jews.” The Christmas story is not an easy one to sum up.

All this is to make one point: Jesus did not come in the way one would expect. He didn’t come in a blaze of fire nor a chariot of righteousness. He came out of wedlock. He came without fanfare. He came without recognition, without a room, without much of an audience. He was born in a barn and put in a manger.

Christmas is meant to be a time where we reflect upon this story. It’s not about presents or candy canes or even Santa. It’s about how flawed we are. It’s about how our savior came to this Earth in the same way we did. It’s about the goodwill that Jesus’ birth embodied. It’s about how we, humanity, became to be saved.

So what should we do this Christmas? I say we should strive to be kind to one another and humble, just like Jesus. In recognizing our own insignificance, we embolden ourselves for new heights of gentleness. In understanding what Christmas truly stands for, we can become charitable. Instead of receiving, give. Instead of complaining, be thankful. Instead of wishing for what could be, give thanks for what is. Donate to the little red bucket outside of Publix or lend a helping hand to your neighbor.

In 1914, World War 1 raged. But on Christmas, an unofficial ceasefire was issued. Troops rose from the trenches and began to play an amicable soccer game, drinking, laughing and celebrating. We live in a divided world, but nowhere near as divided as the Christmas of 1914. Perhaps this Christmas we can embody Christ’s example, setting our own pride aside and coming together, even if it’s just for a day.

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