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Pack Creek Ranch – San Juan County, Utah
The last days before December 25, 2017
Finally SNOW – a white Christmas!

CHRISTMAS EXPLAINED TO AN ANXIOUS HEATHEN

You’re not alone in your confusion about Christmas.
Jesus never had a Christmas tree.
Jesus never sang Jingle Bells.
Jesus never got to sit on Santa Claus’ knee.
He never got a Christmas present.
In fact, Jesus didn’t know anything about Christmas at all.
If he were to suddenly re-appear next week, he would be utterly baffled.”

That’s me trying to be helpful to a young agnostic friend who is somewhat anxious and defensive about Christmas and what’s expected of her.
She’s doesn’t know how to relate to the idea of a new-born King or angelic choirs or visiting astrologers.
And she’s conflicted about the raucous holiday juggernaut that bears down on her every year about this time.
When the Christmas Machine cranks up in full force, and the Dictators of Holiday Joy blare forth, she wants to crawl in a hole and hide.

She was not raised in a religious community, her family had no religious affiliation, and Christmas was not an important part of her childhood.
She doesn’t know most Christmas carols, the historical background of the Christmas traditions or the underlying theology of the Christmas story.

The closest she came to getting burned by the Christmas Fire was being in a school pageant once when she was a kid.
She was Joseph.
Why? Because she was the tallest kid in the class and Joseph had no lines in the tableau. All she had to do was stand there in her long bathrobe and beard and say nothing – just look perplexed – and she excelled at that.
Probably a very accurate depiction of the original Joseph, actually.

I told her that she and Jesus have a lot in common.
Jesus never went to church or Sunday school.
Jesus never had a Bible. Never owned a rosary. Never went to confession.
Jesus wouldn’t understand about the Easter bunny.
Jesus wasn’t even a Christian or an American or a White Caucasian.
Jesus was a Jew born in a land under Roman jurisdiction.
And Jesus was confused and conflicted about the religion of his day.

If Jesus returned to Earth he would be just as confused and conflicted about the religion and cultural Christmas tsunami of our day as she is.

On the other hand, if he came to dinner at her house, she would like him.
He was a fine story teller, enjoyed good red wine, and was the kind of guy who would help clean up the dishes after the meal.
He liked good people – and she is one of those.
Jesus would like her.

What is she supposed to do about Christmas?
My advice is to just get simple-minded for a few days.
Overthinking the season is toxic – and will poison your spirit.
Good is good.
Go for the good. Look for the good. Notice the good and praise it.
Try being as good as you can.
A lot of good things are going on this time of year.
Be part of that.
Don’t be a victim of the dark side of human craziness that also gets loose at this time of year. That’s not all that’s going on.

Getting together with friends is good.
Singing with friends is good.
Laughing and hugging and kissing are good.
Giving those you love a present that makes your affection clear is good.
Giving something to those in need is also good.
Decorating the house is good – candles and incense and some fir branches in the house – and a music box is good.

Going outside late and night and looking at the stars is good.
Being hopeful for a few days at least – that’s good.
Cookies and pies are good.
Slowing down and taking life easy for a few days is good.
Reflecting on what’s good about your life is good.

Don’t worry about the words of the Christmas songs – listen to the music.
Don’t worry about the theology of Christmas – people always need something to explain the wonders of this life that are beyond them.
Forget about the Virgin birth – every birth is an unfathomable miracle.

Don’t get anxious about angels hovering around like giant moths.
Some angels are real – are young and lovely – they just don’t realize it.
Don’t worry about what everybody else does – do it yourself your own way.
Be kind, be generous, reach for the good in ways large and small.
You may choose to do that.
Don’t worry about presents – be as present as you can.

Risk optimism – no harm in that.
Most of us are doing the best we can most of the year.
And this time of year we often try a little harder to love our neighbors.
And ourselves.
That’s good – don’t miss being part of it.

The culture gives us permission to celebrate each in our own way.
You may choose to do that.
There’s nothing illegal or immoral in reaching for joy when joy is in season.
You can do it – you can – if you believe – in yourself.

It’s like this:
The Good existed in the human race long before Christmas.
And will remain essential to the human race long after Christmas is gone.
And every day and every night is sacred to those who believe that.

Merry Christmas.

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