Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24th, 2005
It's now recorded in the blogosphere; I've been politically incorrect, at least according to some.  It won't be the first time.

It's on the record. It's my blog and, as stated in the banner for this site, I've promised to write about my adventures in life, work, and spirit.

I know, from my own personal experience, that many people who will celebrate Christmas this year will do so without a clear (or perhaps any) understanding of what it is we truly celebrate at Christmas and why Christmas is a holiday - a holy day.

In the past one hundred years or so, this holy day, has morphed into a commercial free-for-all, and now, often, a source of confrontation. But that's not Christmas; that's commerce.

Christmas is a celebration

Christmas is the celebration of the birth of a very special child, the most loved child in all the world - the Christ child, God's Son.

OK, simple enough; it is an occasion to celebrate. But to stop there, is to miss the real story. There's much more to this event than the ordinary birth of  child. It was an extraordinary birth: "For God so loved the world. the He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

You've probably heard that popular Bible verse before; it's quoted often. The next verse, though, explains the purpose of the birth of Christ:

"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." (John 3:17)

For many years these verses rang hollow to me. I did not understand them. More truthfully, I did not want to understand them. I did not believe the world needed saving.
I was quite content to celebrate my Jewish heritage with my family and I was equally content to celebrate the Christmas traditions. I looked forward to Christmas and the coming of Saint Nicholas, but I never understood the need for a savior or why gifts were given to celebrate the birthday of someone I did not know. (I took the gifts anyway.) It was not until many years later that I began to search; I wanted to understand what it meant. Once I learned that the term holiday, really meant "holy day" I realized that there was more to be understood. I prayed that God, if he really existed and cared about me, would make himself known to me personally; I prayed that he would help me understand.

Now that I do understand, Christmas means more to me. It is a bittersweet day. It is the celebration of a wondrous event and the greatest gift ever given. It also marks a gift given in great sacrifice.

I'm thankful for that gift, for that baby, and for Christmas. I'm thankful for the people in my life that encouraged me to see beyond the wrapping and presents to the real gift. I'm thankful to God, for redeeming me and for answering my prayers, even when I doubted so much.

There are many things that I can do for myself, teach myself, and buy for myself. I've been given many special gifts in my lifetime, but none as special as the gift each of us celebrate at Christmas.

It's a precious gift, given in love.

If what I've written does not make any sense to you; if you do not understand the meaning of Christmas but know that there must be more than what the media or department stores want you to think [or buy] I hope that you will look further, beyond the distractions of commerce, to the baby, given for you.

I wish you and your family peace, joy, love, and happiness, this Christmas season.

Grace and peace to you,

Eric Mack

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