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Because Christmas Advent begins this week, it would be appropriate for Christians to stop and contemplate the true meaning of Christmas and to examine the wonderful legacies that the practice of Christmas rituals and festivals have delivered to the peoples of Christendom.
The peoples of the Western world hold great admiration for the creation of beauty. Our love of beauty can be seen over and over in the planning of our great cities; in our aesthetics in everything from gardening and landscaping to the designs of great homes, buildings and museums.
The Christian world loves all things beautiful. We embrace wonderful prose and poetry, passionate music, elegant dance and carefully crafted theater productions. We seek after wonderfully designed parks and gardens; we desire to live in manicured neighborhoods replete with lovely homes and all the well-designed things that go into them. We have a particular affinity for things honed with exquisite detail, such as precious jewelry, intriguing pottery, hypnotizing cut crystals, soul-stirring paintings and magnificent sculptures that exalt the human spirit.
One might ask, “Just how was this seed of thirst for great beauty planted in Western nations?”
I contend that it is a gift imparted from God, prompted by the West’s acceptance of the Word of God – the Holy Bible as its foundation for law and societal construct. More importantly, those Christian nations not only accepted God’s word for themselves, but they also took on the mission to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the unsaved world. And for these reasons, I believe God settled upon Western cultures His gifts of appreciation for and instincts to create beauty at all levels of their societies.
God in Heaven is the author of all beauty. His earthly gifts reflect His Heavenly splendor. The majestic mountain ranges and the awesome waterfalls are but two examples of the millions of wondrous beautiful things He has dispersed throughout our planet.
Some of those who have had near-death experiences and believe that they went to Heaven, all tell similar stories of seeing beauty so intense and so overwhelming that the tellers do not have words to fully describe what they have seen. If we apply but a bit of
that heavenly splendor to the gifts He has given His people to evidence his creativity in the earth, we can see the source of the layer upon layer of adorning beauty that is displayed throughout Christendom each Christmas Advent season. God’s people celebrating His miraculous birth cannot help but embellish and make beautiful their world in His name.
Just as we serve a living God, the celebration of Christmas is a living thing. There are practices carried out each year that are considered immovable tradition; there are new events, foods, décor and things that may be permanently added by certain cultures as a part of their rituals and festivities or they may be short lived and eventually abandoned. They all add to the beauty of the celebration.
Consider the seemingly endless list of beautiful things we routinely use to make Christmas happen in our homes, schools, businesses and communities. These things are familiar to our lives, yet we expect to see new versions of each item each year we celebrate Christmas. Stop and contemplate the depth of creativity we, as a people, have routinely become accustomed to experiencing at Christmastime. Literally millions upon millions of Christmas products, in addition to associated products and services, pass through our society at the end of each year.
Many businesses count on the trade of the Christian Christmas shopper to make their financial books balance in the black at the end of each year. They deliver beautiful Christmas merchandise to the Christian shopper, yet many of them still refuse to use or say “Christmas” or “Merry Christmas” in their advertisements and catalogs, even though it is apparent that Christmas is critical their fiscal survival. Those in the corporate world whose actions indicate their hate for Christmas recognize that even they, in reality, cannot feasibly live without it. Christmas positively affects those who serve it.
Yet, no matter how they try, the Christ-haters and the other mean-spirited Christmas bashers cannot overcome nor even diminish the sheer beauty of our world “all dressed to celebrate Jesus’ birthday.” It is irresistible. God’s on-going creative gifts, evidenced through His people, contribute to the expansion of “Christmas beauty” each year. It fills the hearts of Christians with joy, and it overwhelms non-believers with its beauty.
There is nothing more beautiful than the story of Jesus coming to earth as a precious babe. Our world is never more beautiful than when it stops to adorn itself in recognition of the Prince of Peace. We are a blessed people because our culture sets aside more than a month each year to openly worship Him in the public square. Nothing can surpass the sheer beauty of Christmas! Emanuel – God with us!
I, the Christian Christmas Lady, wish you and yours the “peace that surpasses understanding”, and all the wonderful experiences that Christmas can bring this 2010 December Advent.
REMINDER: Participate in The Christian Christmas Lady’s project to ask all churches in America with bells to play Christmas carols throughout 2010 Advent and to ring at 12:00 midnight on Christmas Eve and 12:00 noon on Christmas Day. Click here to read and forward a copy of my column, “Ring the Christmas Church Bells!”