Christmas Reflections

Christmas Reflections

Christmas is a complicated time of year for the thoughtful Christian. It’s supposed to be a time of reflection on the wonderful gift of forgiveness and enlightenment embodied by the gift of God’s only begotten son. This becomes a little bit hard for the secular crowd to swallow, so they cover it with good cheer, and gift giving.

Which is nice. At least people are trying to be nice to one another. Jesus would approve. However, a part of me feels like they’re hijacking my holiday. That’s a juvenile attitude though. Because we’re technically all hijacking the holiday from pagan winter solstice festivals.

Then there’s the added misery of commercialism, materialism, and the all out bastardization of all that is holy. The constant consumerism of the season serves an economic purpose, but the hustle and bustle takes away from the true meaning and wonder of the holiday, and leaves me with a sour fruitcake flavored taste in my mouth.

The thing that really bothers me is that so many of my secular friends can’t understand that this holiday is so much better than they even realize. They can’t really grasp the depth of meaning and existential effect that it has on me. So perhaps, if so inclined, they can follow this rambling attempt at explanation.

The idea of God is ever present in culture; even the most ardent atheists have at least consented to question their beliefs at one time or another. It’s a powerful motif. A creator, a universal father to an immature world so often caught up in an infantile momentum of madness; one that consistently perpetuates atrocious acts and fits of self destruction or devolution. I think that the human consciousness indisputably yearns for some form of cosmic help, a guiding hand and a thoughtful word of encouragement, advice, and in some cases: admonishment. I think it was designed to do so.

I read about a survey conducted in Great Britain today. The survey was taken to see what children were asking Santa for Christmas. The tenth most requested gift was a simple yet heartbreaking wish for a father. My heart sunk into a very deep corner of my chest when I read that statistic.

You see in addition to the paternal bonds I share with my dad and stepdad, I have my heavenly father as well. Now this might seem a bit played out and foolish to the skeptic. They might compare my idea of a universal oversoul to childish fancy. Something akin to elves, fairies, or Santa Claus. However, I have experienced in my life the powerful impression of a presence. A presence complete unto itself, possessing an infinity of wisdom and overwhelming benevolence. One that has guided my development, disciplined me, and safeguarded my every action. Now that’s a bold claim, and many might assert that it doesn’t hold up to severe scrutiny. Allow me to explain a little further.

I believe that every choice in life makes a mark on you. Your true self (or soul as we Christians are so fond of describing the abstract concept) is constantly changing, shifting, and evolving according to the decisions that you make. Sometimes you are led to a conclusion without acting according to logic or reason at all. In my life, I discern the unmistakable hand of God pushing me in one direction or another, sometimes met with great resistance and other times great enthusiasm. And this path, that I am pushed towards, is invariably the one that will bring me the greatest benefit.

If not in my circumstances, then in my character. And that is an important distinction. I am not being shaped into a rich, successful, and worldly human being. That materialist mindset isn’t of any greater concern. I am being shaped into a good person. Someone that can make you smile, lend a helping hand, or teach you something useful. That is the end destination. The journey is infinitely more complicated than that.

When I say that I am guided, this is what I mean. That there is a greater plan and purpose for my life, and it is frustratingly clouded by an ocean of illusionary chaos, and my own inadequacies which are deep and varied. In my finest moments, I feel as if I can glimpse a miniscule fraction of that grand scheme. I assert that this is not only true for myself, but for every living being, event, object, and idea that has existed or ever will.

That’s who I think God is. The man with the plan. The Father with your vacation’s itinerary.

And this part is not as easy to follow. I believe that He has a Son. That the Son is not really a child of flesh and blood, but a spiritual self recognition of an omnipotent nature. A grandiose metaphor of God knowing himself, and in so knowing creating a reflection of self impression. And he put that “Son” into physical form, making him a true child of flesh and blood, in an unprecedented outpouring of his cosmic life energy, covering the cosmos with incomprehensible levels of positivity, grace, hope, and the all important ingredient: Love.

This one perfect life redeemed all of the bad choices, horror, and atrocities committed throughout time immemorial, and allowed us to enter into a relationship with the source of all being. Simultaneously, it served as an example of perfection to drive humanity to its highest aspirations.

And predictably, we made a terrible mess of it.

We celebrate this incredible advent by killing trees and exploiting child labor in developing nations to feed our unquenchable avarice.  Oy Vey.

Yet we’re forgiven, and many of us do our best to minimize the impact of our collective carbon footprints in recognition of a higher power, or if not a higher power, then at least a higher moral order. Which is really the same thing.

What I love most about my belief, is that it is an excellent story. It is captivating with as many twists and turns as there are stars in the sky. More, in fact. Because the story is about the sky, it’s the story of the universe and everything in it. It’s the story of me, the story of us, and the story of everything apart from us, which should make us all feel very very small.

And that makes this complaint of mine seem much more trivial. However, if nothing else, man has an extremely inflated view of his own importance, and I’m certainly not exempt from that description. So…

My main issue with Christmas is giving credit where it’s due. And if I’m correct in my belief, then all credit is always due to God. Even if people claim that he’s imaginary, they defeat themselves. Because they forget that the imagination is a real thing. The letters that you are reading began in my imagination, the glowing screen upon which you are reading them was conceived in the imagination, and every “real” material manmade object owes its origin to an imaginary realm as well.

God is imaginary, but he’s more than that. He is the imagination. He is the canvas upon which our imagination paints. He is the framework, the scaffolding of reality. He is the solid ground to build upon. He bears our weight and burdens, allowing us the freedom to make messes and clean them up ourselves, and always the all important power to choose between right and wrong, between Him and nothingness.

And we, most of the time, choose nothingness. Hence the need for forgiveness. Hence the need for a savior. Hence the need for a celebration of said savior’s entrance into the physical realm. Hence the need for candy canes, stockings on chimneys, flashing lights, eggnog, claymation Rudolph, Manheim Steamroller’s stirring rendition of Carol of the Bells, and fat drunks in red suits getting paid to grope children in malls the world over.

Easy yet difficult logic. Faith is like that. The burden is heavy but the yoke is light. The thing people get hung up on with all of this is misconstruing religion for God. Religion, in most cases, is an attempt at transcendence by man. Like most of man’s attempts, religion falls short 99% of the time.

An experience of God, however, has never once disappointed.

Merry Christmas, and God bless us, everyone.

4 Comments

  1. Most stirring! And eloquently put! What an inspiring way of stating your heartfelt beliefs. Thank you for sharing! And I agree wholeheartedly!

  2. Sandra Donnelly

    Wow! What a beautiful way to put your true beliefs to work for the secular world and the Christian.
    I am awed by your ability to express yourself and so very proud to know you as a man of true faith.
    This is an incredible piece of work Zack, keep pressing on toward the prize that is before you.

  3. Jason Brown

    I wanted to chime in and let you know that most everything that you wrote here speaks to me as well. I have lived my entire life believing that you only have to do one thing to know God. Accept Jesus into your heart. God’s message is love and acceptance. He has definitely led my life and I am blessed to have lived with his guidance. I am a hot mess of a human being, but that’s ok. It’s not like he didn’t know that about me when we met. Great message and thanks for sharing your message.

  4. zack

    You’re welcome Jason! I’m glad you enjoyed it.