Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Thoughts

"I have this running quandary about Christmas. I get upset
about it, because I feel that we American Christians make too
much of it, and too little. Too little of it, because we pile
all sorts of other things onto it, including some that have
only the feeblest connection with the Event it is supposed to
commemorate. If God did become a man, in any real sense, it is
the most important thing that ever happened. Surely we, who
believe it, could well devote one day a year to uninterrupted
contemplation of the fact, and let Saturnalia fall on the
winter solstice, where it belongs.
On the other hand, we make so much of the actual birth, and
forget the things that make it more than just the birth of a
baby (though even that is, in Walt Whitman's phrase, "miracle
enough to stagger sextillions of infidels"*)--more, even, than
the birth of the greatest man who ever lived. We forget the
promise to Eve of a descendant who will solve the problem of
Evil; the promise to Abraham of one by whom all mankind will be
blessed; the promise to Moses of a greater prophet than he, to
arise from his people; and the promise to David of a Son who
would be his Master. We forget about the eternal Purpose behind
it all: it's like telling a story and leaving out the point.
Yes, it is true that God gave us His Son, and so maybe we ought
also to give gifts--but what, and to whom? It is also true that
God gave us Himself, and the only sensible response to that is
to give ourselves to Him. There is nothing else that He wants
from us, or, if there is something, He can take it. Only I, my
ego, my heart, is truly mine to give or to withhold--and is
therefore the appropriate gift to Him." - Walt Whitman

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