I know that I am writing this on Sept. 25 and there are other events occurring over the next 2 months, but I am still going to point out that we are 3 months away from Christmas! Oh my!!!!!!
Our Tuesday morning group that eats breakfast at Cracker Barrel has watched the Christmas display creep from the corner near the checkout counter until it spread to other sections today. We are sold the idea that we must be prepared to shop early and often for Christmas because the measure of a successful Christmas is the latest and greatest products under the tree.
According to our Christian history, Christmas isn’t the big holiday of our faith. Easter used to be the major celebration of Christianity. While our consumer industry has managed to create products for Easter it doesn’t come close to what we are inundated with by the marketplace for Christmas.
Christmas is the story of a Middle Eastern family forced into migration by an occupying European nation. The woman is very pregnant by the time they arrive at there destination. They don’t have the resources to secure a place to live and are left homeless. Out of pity or compassion, an innkeeper offers them the use of the barn out back. It is here that the child is born. According to the stories in Matthew and Luke, no one except some shepherds showed up to celebrate this new life.
The family stayed where they were for about two years before they needed to flee from the ruler’s order to murder all the boys 2 and under. Traveling scientists informed the family of the threat to their child. They go to Egypt as refugees where they remain for a number of years at which time they return to there original home in Nazareth.
Over the centuries we have added traditions from other nations and cultures to the celebration of Christmas which is fine, however, we have also polished the basics of the story so we don’t really imagine a baby born in a smelly, animal filled barn where the newborn is put in a feed trough. We don’t picture this family as homeless or refugees. We don’t think about the challenge of traveling a great distance by foot and donkey while pregnant and poor. Nor do we think about an infant to toddler in danger of being killed by a fearful government leader.