Sunday, December 22, 2013

In The Spirit of Christmas


As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, 
"As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God."  
So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
Romans 14: 1-12

This may sound odd, mainly because I love Christmas, but most members of the church of Christ do not celebrate Christmas as a truly religious holiday.  Since the bible does not give us a specific time to celebrate the birth of Christ, we celebrate it everyday of the year.  My family has always celebrated Christmas though, and it's always been a special time of year for us.

We've always seen it as a good thing to observe Christmas day. The mere marking of times and seasons, when men and women agree to stop work, spend time together, and celebrate the joys of giving, is a wise and wholesome custom. It helps one to feel the supremacy of the common life over the individual life. It reminds us of the joy that surrounds us.

But there is a better thing than the observance of Christmas day, and that is, keeping the spirit of Christmas.

Are you willing to forget what you have done for other people, and to remember what other people have done for you? Are you willing to ignore what the world owes you, and to think what you owe the world?  Are you willing to put your rights in the background, and your duties in the middle distance, and your chances to do a little more than your duty in the foreground?  Are you willing to see that your fellow-men are just as real as you are, and try to look behind their faces to their hearts, hungry for joy?  Are you willing to realize that probably the reason for your existence is not what you are going to get out of life, but what you are going to give to life?  Are you willing to close your book of complaints against the management of the universe, and look around you for a place where you can sow a few seeds of happiness?  Are you willing to put aside your judgement of your fellow man, and realize that God does not wish us to judge one another?  Are you willing to do these things even for a day? Then you can keep the spirit of Christmas.

Are you willing to consider the needs and the desires of of humankind young and old? Are you willing to stop asking how much your friends love you, and ask yourself whether you love them enough? Are you willing to bear in mind the things that other people have to bear on their hearts?  Are you willing to do these things even for a day? Then you can keep the spirit of Christmas.

Are you willing to believe that love is the strongest thing in the world--stronger than hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death--and that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem over two thousand years ago is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love? Then you can keep the spirit of Christmas.

And if you keep the spirit of Christmas for a day, why not always?  We should open our hearts and minds to all of humankind and be blessed that we are on this earth another day.  We should celebrate the love that Jesus Christ brought us each and every day of our lives, not just on December 25.  I had planned to expand my post from Friday and discuss more about those who pass judgement on the LGBT community, but I chose to focus on the good that we can do as people.  There will always be those who pass judgement on us, but as the passage above states, they will be held accountable for their actions.

At Christmastime we should rejoice and love our fellow man, whether he or she loves us or not.  We need to be the better people, for as the angels declared to the shepherds who were watching their flock outside of Bethlehem:
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Luke 2:14


3 comments:

Michael Dodd said...

I had planned to expand my post from Friday and discuss more about those who pass judgement on the LGBT community, but I chose to focus on the good that we can do as people.

Congratulations on your choice. Lots of people right now are talking about those who pass judgment on the community and those who pass judgement who are in the community.

Often lately after I have written a post about something that bothers me, I have decided that putting more negativity out there would only result in more negativity being out there. So I delete it and try to find an uplifting story to mention.

As Buddhists say, you will not be punished for your anger. You will be punished by your anger.

St. Paul's challenge to the Romans confronts me: "Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head." (Romans 12:20)

BTW, I am not saying that what you would have written would have been negative. I merely confess that I find it difficult not to become the very type of person I am writing about when I write a critical post, no matter how objective I try to make it. Someday perhaps I will be able to speak the truth in love more effectively.

May you be happy; may you be well; may you be safe in the coming year!

Coop said...

"We've always seen it as a good thing to observe Christmas day. The mere marking of times and seasons, when men and women agree to stop work, spend time together, and celebrate the joys of giving, is a wise and wholesome custom. It helps one to feel the supremacy of the common life over the individual life. It reminds us of the joy that surrounds us."

That is an observation that I share as well. Not everyone follows the Christian faith, but a lot of people seem to take Christmas as a time to appreciate others, show them gratitude, etc.

Merry Christmas, Joe. I'm not around much these days as my life is quite busy.

Jay M. said...

I was in my home church this morning, the one I joined nearly 40 years ago and never left, even after moving to two other states. It was a time of joy, and hope, and peace, and most of all, love.

Merry Christmas, Joe! I like your church's attitude: Celebrate Christ's birth every day!

Peace <3
Jay