Bringing Easter and Christmas together is something I like to do. They are a package, but our culture tends to treat them separately. What I didn’t expect was that my 2015 Christmas musings would be the second most viewed post here in 2020.
I’m not confused. I know it is Christmas – but the day would have no meaning if not for Easter. The baby in a manger celebrated in song and image was the beginning, but it was the planned ending that was important. Without the death and resurrection it might as well have been Frosty the Snowman born on Christmas day.
I like the Christmas story. As a child I paid my dues in various Christmas pageants. I have been a shepherd, a wise man, an innkeeper and even Joseph if I remember correctly. All part of a cultural tradition. But the version I prefer to contemplate is the one found in John’s gospel. That’s the one without the shepherds, wise men and manger. It’s a theological approach that is more my style.
Society likes the idea of celebrating a birthday. It is less interested in the pain and suffering that goes with crucifixion. So Christmas is a big deal, Easter not so much anymore. We don’t like to be reminded about what happened to that baby. Not just because it was a bloody and painful death but also because when we look at it we are confronted with our own sins. Safer to leave the baby in the manger than to have to deal with that concept. The stylized representations of that first Christmas are romanticized, but that is okay. At least people are celebrating.
So today I do wish you a Merry Christmas. And I do so because I know that Christmas leads to Easter, and that is when there is truly joy to the world.