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VERITAS Christmas Joy Peace Love and Mayhem
Donald Reinhardt, December 23, 2012
We are here to wish you all the real, essential Christmas gifts of Joy, Peace and Love this day and every day.We already know the Lord has come and He is always with us.
Nativity –The Birth of Christ. Photo Credit: Library of Congress
Christmas celebrations are basic affirmations and exclamation points of that important first Christmas event. However, Christmastime actually expands Christian theology deeper int0 what Christians know and understand of the entire life of Jesus. “For God so loved the world that He sent His only-begotten Son, that whoever shall believe in Him shall have life everlasting.”  It is that Christmas message, lesson and sermon for today and everyday – “for God so loved” that He sent, gave, committed, directed, and placed upon this very same earth His-Only begotten Son. And God did this because He loved us and saw the good, the need, the purpose, the fulfillment and the ultimate benefit of this for humankind – for us.

There is another real aspect of life and Christmas – Christmas mayhem – we know that is there too. Mayhem is there to think about and maybe bother us, distract us, annoy us and take away some or almost all of the joy, peace and love of the season. We can start by thinking about the mayhem or troubles of that first Christmas and later think about current, contemporary Christmas mayhem.

Mayhem of the First Christmas was Real

You may remember that decree which was given by Caesar Augustus for a census to be taken. This decree required all persons within the Roman Empire to return to their birth hometown and to be accounted for. The time was probably spring, not winter for this God- and Roman-Empire-ordained trip.  For Joseph and May that destination was Bethlehem. The journey was quite long and arduous.  The young woman was with child, the ride was inconvenient upon the donkey, it was crowded, many were journeying along the way, and it was crowded when the town little Bethlehem was reached. And to top all this off – there was no room for them at the inn. It was a mayhem journey and in a crowded city certainly with some mayhem. Yet, the child was born in a stable, cradled in a manger with hay and one asks, “Why would God place His only begotten Son in that place and in that way?” And the answer seems to be because “God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son.”  God affirms and shows He values simplicity, among common and ordinary folk living everyday lives and seeking to make their way through life. That is why Jesus was there to show every one of us that even as God loved His own Son he believes in simplicity, the basics, and the essentials. There were in that simple stable animals, visitors, the curious, shepherds and eventually some wise men from the East with some special gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  And life went on after that census and trip. Joseph, Mary and the baby survived the search by Herod for this threat to the Roman kingdom. The family carried themselves forward and well after that time in Bethlehem. The Jesus ministry to all would begin only 30 years from that birthday.

Mayhem of Christmas Present, Past and Future

This Christmas and in times past and in the future there people who are ill, very ill and there are friends or family members who  have died, are dying and will die. Some are without jobs, or family life  is in disarray, or some have no family at all. Yes, there is pain, suffering, sorrow and maybe even loneliness,  turmoil, strife, bitterness and even despair amid this maelstrom and this mayhem and it is right here at Christmastime, but it is here all the time. This all part of what we call life for what it is. It has its ups and downs and sometimes more downs than ups.

The Christmas Message Amidst the Mayhem

If Christmas is about Christ, and it is, then what message do we extract and sort out from the mayhem of life?

Jesus said he came so that we may have life and have it more abundantly. In the Gospel of John we hear “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.”  Jesus said, “ I and the Father are one,” and  “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life,” “No man cometh to the Father except by me.” Those are bold and strong statements made with authority and made with assurance by Jesus and accepted with faith and love by Christians or disciples who follow Christ.

If we have life and have life more abundantly as promised by Jesus it certainly is not measured in the excesses and surfeit of material gifts and goods, since neither Jesus nor his followers ever had that originally, nor did many of his followers over the millennia that have followed. The abundance of God is manifest in the gifts of God; yes that is this special unique gift package of Peace, Love and Joy. And why would we have Peace, Love and Joy, especially when there is so much sorrow and grief? There is that other part of the Christmas story that lies buried to many until they find Easter with an awful and deadly Crucifixation of Jesus hanging from a cross with two thieves and then a Resurrection of this very Jesus and the promise fulfilled. Jesus who forgave sin, raised the dead himself and gave meaning to life everlasting – “I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am, you may be also.” “In my Father’s house there are many rooms.” Those are words and messages of love, joy and they impart a peace and comfort. “Do not worry, do not be afraid, I go before you always.” Jesus is always there. He said He must go to a place where his disciples could not yet go, but He would send an advocate, the Holy Spirit to be a guide and a comforter and “ behold I am with you always, even unto the consummation of the earth.”

Therefore, the message of Christmas is simple. Carry on, fear not, you are covered by God the Father who is Heaven.

There has been a birth, there is a Savior and there is deliverer, there is something more – there is our being covered by God’s grace, mercy and love. The message of Christmas is “joy to the world, the Lord has come, let earth receive her king. Let heaven and nature sing, let heaven and nature sing. Joy to the world. He rules with truth and grace.”  

 May that gift shared by God of Joy, Peace and love be with you and with your family and friends, this day and every day for all the days of your life. That’s our prayer and wish from our family to yours to you and all who celebrate Christmas. 

For your Christmas listening pleasure and true theology, this wonderful song version of “Mary Did You Know.” by Kathy Mattea with lyrics on screen captures the essence of Christmas.

And for those who have the time (and most of you will not, but may) I have selected of over 50 wonderful songs and Christmas greetings from all over the world (Poland, Ukraine, Russia, France, Germany, Italy, Greece, Serbia and other places) which represent a dozen different cultures that capture Christmas so well in so many ways.