Christmas is not what you think!

Christmas means so many different things to each of us. For the vast majority of people in western culture, it is the time that we celebrate the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem a little over 2000 years ago. We'll come back to this thought.

For a growing number of people, Christmas is the name associated with a "season" that is inclusive of other celebrations and holidays. But the title "Christmas" is beginning to be replaced by the more inclusive term, "holidays." Let's face it...Christmas is awesome and filled with hope, and who doesn't want to be part of awesomeness & hope, right? One could argue that part of the fuss over Christmas is that it is claimed as property of one group of people. Other groups of people that identify and connect over various ethnicities, beliefs or non-beliefs can feel excluded. Everybody wants to recognized and have their special time or holiday, and that's all good. 

But there does seem to be a flow in culture to make Christmas belong to everybody and to do that, some deem it necessary to remove the parts of it that refer to the Christian narrative and the person of Jesus. Which is kind of ironic because when the birth of Jesus was announced by the angels to the shepherds outside of Bethlehem, the angels actually said, "...Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people." Luke 2:10

Did you get that? God came to be one of us and it was not meant for a certain group of people but rather to all people. And that doesn't imply that the plan was for "all people" to become like the insiders. I love it that the first to hear about God coming near to us were the authentic "outsiders" of that time and culture. Also, take note that he angel was bringing good news, not bad news. And the good news would bring joy to all people. They were not commanded to have joy, it just came.

This is where I have to explain to you that I am not saying that every belief system is equal or that all paths lead to the same place. That's not true. What I am saying is that the things that every soul longs for - a sense of identity, the experience of intimacy and clarity about our destiny - are no longer hidden nor withheld from us to be doled out as a way to control us through man-made religion. 

So what is the good news? Well, I like to say that Jesus is not still stuck in the manger, not in a snow globe or in a church building, and maybe a little more to the point...He's not still on the cross.  But rather, He has conquered death, crossed space and time and has entered into the human experience to help us become human again. There is even an invitation for us to become the space that His spirt occupies so that we can share the good news with the rest of humanity.

Remember, the good news will bring great joy to all people. So, as you do Christmas this year and hopefully encounter other humans, ask yourself, "What would be good news to them?" "What would bring great joy to them?"

This is real, this is true and this is Christmas!

Barry Odom