It's Christmas time again. We give pricey gifts to our friends and family. We give to the less fortunate, the poor, the homeless. And once this special season is over, we return to our usual lives. That is, we go about our lives and consider the other eleven months of the year as that "unspecial" and "routine" time of year.
During this special time, we seem to be happier and more friendly to our neighbors. There are myriads of television Christmas specials showing the positive side of humanity. It's just unfortunate that we behave like Ebenezer Scrooge the rest of the year and not like Jesus Christ.
Christmas is the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ. It is the beginning of the fulfillment of God's Promise to His children: eternal life. Christmas is only a step in our journey towards the Resurrection. The point of Christmas is to embrace this Promise all year and not just in December.
A Promise is an act by a person to fulfill a bargain of sorts or a task. The Promiser (in this case God) follows through for the Promisee (in this case, us). The birth of Christ is a step along that path. We confuse Christ's birthday with His sacrifice for us. His birth is the beginning of the fulfillment of God's Promise to His children ("'For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life' " John 3:16).
During Christ's "birthday" season, we pray for peace. However, "peace and good will toward all" becomes a happy memory on January 2nd (the official end of the Christmas season). We forget that "peace and good will toward all" should be practiced all of the time. We talk about the magic of the season as if we could wave a wand or say a magic spell and conjure up that peace. We give until our wallets bleed and bandage them on January 2nd and think we've done our Christian duty. When in fact, we should give of our time, energy and talents that God has given all of us until our neighbors are really free from pain and at peace. Instead, we get caught up in the commercialism at the local department store and fret over which toy to buy for our children rather than tending to the needs of our neighbor.
An apt microcosm of our world at Christmas is the animated tale, A Charlie Brown Christmas. Charlie Brown is the lovable loser. He's the kid some of us were in grade school. In the cartoon, he is given the task of organizing the Christmas pageant for the group. Also, he's in charge of finding and buying the biggest, "bestest" Christmas tree for the pageant. Charlie Brown finds a lonely and pitiful little tree for their event. During their rehearsal for the Christmas Pageant, the Peanuts gang gets caught up in the hustle and bustle of commercialism of Christmas and forget the true meaning of God's Promise. When they see what kind of tree Charlie Brown has bought, they laugh and humiliate him. Charlie Brown walks away with his pitiful tree in disgrace.
At this point, Linus takes the Peanuts gang to task by quoting to them Luke 2:8-14 ("In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them...saying, 'Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!' "). The Peanuts gang in their humility, hear Linus and they seek out Charlie Brown and show him their "peace and good will." (They help make the sad little tree a beautiful tree through their love of their friend). If only we could be like the Peanuts gang and love each other with the same passion that his friends showed Charlie Brown when they decorated the little tree. More importantly, if only we could be as forgiving as Charlie Brown is towards his friends.
It's Christmas time again. It is the fulfillment of God's Promise that He gave to us. God's Promise is realized at the Crucifixion and then at the Resurrection. Let's live that all of the time and not just in December.
Lia Lewis is a graduate of Holy Cross Orthodox Seminary. She's also a member of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church
in Westfield, NJ.