Life, Death, and Christmas
Now Jack the Bohemian is a self – proclaimed atheist. For Jack the Brexiteer, his main interest in Christmas is not Santa Claus and Rudolf the red nose reindeer, it is the huge leap in cash takings at his hotel and restaurant, from guests visiting these eclectic Lesser Antilles, over the Holiday Season.
Then there are the office parties, government Christmas functions, and an increase in business from local families dining out at Christmas at Jack’s venue. Christmas is strictly business for Jack. It is the most important time of the year for his business.
Then when this Old Boy attempts to explain to Jack that there is more to life than the tangible- what can be seen, touched, smelled, heard, and tasted- Jack faces his counterpart- eyes rolling- and states: ‘’ don’t be silly Dickson! There is no such thing as GOD! ‘’
This Believer’s response is, ‘’ there must be a Creator Jack. Life is simply too complex to have happened by chance.’’
Life, death and Christmas are interwoven themes. And the songwriter states that: “Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year.” And it certainly is. One can literally smell when Christmas is in the air. Christmas and New Years are magical times.
A year ends, and there is the scent of pine fir, cooler nights, and decorated and lighted store fronts. In the Virgin Islands it gets dark by 6pm. The days are breezy, the evenings simply majestic. Suddenly, there is greater goodwill between normally quarrelsome neighbors, and a nightingale sings in London’s Berkeley Square. There is a magical quality about the second half of December.
And even before the advent of Christ, over two thousand years past, in the barbaric and freezing forests of Northern Europe, there were celebrations, by various peoples like the Norse, who instinctively felt December to be a special time. For the Norse, it was a time of new beginnings, of new joy, of great expectancy.
In Scandinavia, there was the celebration of Yule starting December 21. And Yule was one long feast. Even in Germany, there were celebrations to pagan Gods at December, especially the God Ogden. These celebrations are analogies to today’s consumer oriented feasting during the month of December.
In the Northern latitudes, at this time of the year, it is a time of snowmen, cold frosty evenings, white Christmases, and families sitting down to turkey, ham, roast beef and Christmas pudding. Chestnuts roast on an open fire.
Christmas is a time of celebration. The worst of the winter season is over. There is a natural expectancy. There are better times ahead. The season is a time for New Year resolution, spring is in the air. Andy Williams sang, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year with kids jingle belling, and everyone telling you, to be in good cheer.”
At Christmas time, the same feelings of wonder and merriment are had in the tropics. At home in the Caribbean, it is still the most wonderful time of the year. It is a time of Calypso and steel pan, caroling on a breezy hillside with rustling palm fronds and swaying palm trees adding to the magic. Families get together, there is increased religious activity. Christmas is pantomime; Christmas is shopping; Christmas is partying; and general merriment.
The retail trade especially views Christmas-time as its most important season. It is the time the Wal-marts, and K-marts, and Macys of this world earn the majority of their profits. The greatest percentage of revenues and profits are made in December by retailers in Road Town. Global GDP increases at the tail end of December, more than at any other time of the year, and so do credit sales.
Christmas is the most important time for the capitalist creed of unlimited consumerism. A writer asserted that Santa Claus, the pseudonym for the 4th century Saint Nicholas, transplanted to Lapland, and flying across the globe each year, shimmying down chimneys that no longer work, stuffing stockings that no one wears. Still Christmas is a wonderful time of the year.
However, all of this activity negates the true meaning of Christmas for the Christian believer: the defeat of death.
Christmas is also a time of reflection: what will the new-year bring?
And loved ones who have passed on come to mind. Death is still that great, insurmountable barrier. It is the greatest and most overwhelming mystery in living existence, and the ultimate equalizer, with no respect for wealth and power. At death, the billionaire is no better than the beggar, king and peasant; they inhabit a common domain when the grim reaper appears.
Death is paradoxically why Christmas is the most joyous time of the year. And this is evidently not understood by the majority of consumers, who see Christmas as an orgy of shopping, eating, drinking, and carousing.
‘’The defeat of death! What a ludicrous assertion,’’ Jack of Bohemia states. However, over two thousand years ago, and this true Christians believe, the greatest event of all time occurred. This is an occurrence that remains the greatest event in world history: the greatest twist of all time. Science was turned upside down. This event of events is why Before Christ BC, and after Christ AD, came to be part of the universal lexicon.
Christmas is celebrated as the event when the God of this Universe, the creator of time and space, put on the garb of his creation, and stepped into time and space, a vulnerable baby in a manger.
God – as father, Son, and Holy Spirit- remains a mystery. This God of Christendom spent thirty three years on earth. God in Jesus was a living example of human love, kindness, and humility. His violent death, at the hands of the religious authorities of the time appeared to be the end of His life.
But in the greatest twist of all time, His death on a wooden Roman cross, put to an end the idea of eternal oblivion in a cold grave, and at Easter, His resurrection from that grave, proffered the greatest hope of all time: eternal life, and the hope of reunion with loved ones already passed on.
Yes, that is the true meaning of Christmas for a Christian community such as these Virgin Islands has declared. The celebration of the greatest gift ever offered. The celebration of true love: God offering the gift of Himself, through Jesus Christ, for a decaying and dying humanity.
So, as we sit down with loved ones this Christmas Time to feast at the dining table, and open up presents under the Christmas tree let us all make one great effort, to keep at the back of the mind what Christmas really means. Christmas is the celebration of the greatest gift of all time offered to a troubled and dying world by the all-powerful God of Christendom- the Gift of His love.
And the words of Jesus Christ ring ever true, especially at this season: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Add to these, the words of the greatest Apostle to the gentile world: Paul of Tarsus- “and now abide faith, hope, love, these three, but the greatest of these is love.”
Yes, the true meaning of Christmas is love.
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