Why It’s Christmas, Part II

I have been pondering my response to the comments to my last post for several days now.

First off, I just want to thank everyone for being so open, honest, and willing to have this conversation. The comments I got, especially from people who don’t practice an organized religion (anymore) are much appreciated. I see where you are coming from as far as the tradition of the season goes. And I’m glad that Christmas — this time of year, in general — gives us good reason to celebrate peace, give gifts, and spend time with family.

If you still struggle with the “pressure” to celebrate it, as a couple of you do, I hope you find a way through. And I have to admit, I don’t envy that struggle.

Second, I did find two wee things that I took exception to, and I wanted to address them.

Kim Z and Abby both mention the pagan thing — I knew someone would! — and I thought about that happening before I even posted. It made me laugh to see it. Yes, Christians picked a date and adopted some customs that were less than Christ-centered at the time of their adoption. But it is the way that Christmas has been celebrated for hundreds of years now, and trees, wreaths, and candles have been imbued with religious symbolism in that time. I think everyone gets to use them now.

Let’s remember, early Christians were mercilessly persecuted, a practice that persisted for centuries. You’d pick up some camouflage, too, especially so you could peacefully celebrate the way you wanted. (Rudolph doesn’t figure into my religious celebration, but my kids love singing the song!)

The other comment that rankled a bit came from “Anonymous”. He/She writes, “…my realization there is no God…” and I’m going to take issue a bit with semantics. Anonymous believes there is no God. I believe there is. I am unlikely to persuade him/her differently, and vice versa.

After I returned to my faith in my late 20s, I was speaking with a friend. It was coming up on the Christmas season. She was familiar with my history (religious and otherwise), and she said to me, “Well, you don’t actually believe that Mary was a virgin when she conceived, do you?” And I said, “Actually, I do.” She looked at me like I was crazy. And I get it.

I have my own issues with the Catholic Church. But in a nutshell, here is why I am faithful: I believe my God (and Jesus) are all about the love. This is probably where institutionalized religions get it the most wrong. We humans, we should be all about the love, too; but we’re mere humans. The other thing about my faith, and Christianity in a larger sense: It is about the miraculous. The unbelievable.

I will never scientifically prove to you (if you do not believe) that God exists. I cannot show you how Jesus was resurrected, or what happens to the Eucharist each Sunday, or how the Bible (regardless of when it was written and by whom) is, definitively, the Word of God. But that’s exactly the thing about faith: it is not science. And that’s why it’s not called “science”.

I believe in God. I believe in the redemptive power of love. I believe in miracles.

Somewhere, a baby was born. Somewhere, there was a star.

Merry Christmas.