Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Holiday Crescendo

I find it interesting how the Birth of Jesus Christ is celebrated on December 25th. Biblical scholars around the world debate the actual birthday of our Savior, with little agreement except as to the fact that it was not on the 25th of December. Even though the current day set aside to mark the anniversary of the birth of the Messiah is not correlated with the actual event, the timing of the Christmas celebrations seem to have meaning nonetheless.

In my humble opinion, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season. The fourth Thursday in November marks a day when families join together, play football, prepare a feast, eat great food, enjoy company, and most importantly give thanks for the many blessings in their lives. Without the emphasis on giving thanks, Thanksgiving becomes just a day where people gather to eat fancily prepared food. However, with the emphasis on gratitude, people's attitudes shift. By being grateful, people become more aware of their inadequacies, recognize their reliance on others and God, and their attitude becomes more focused on "haves" instead of the "have-nots." As people make effort to count the blessings in their lives, they are often suprised by the sheer number and quality of the tender mercies they find.

As Thanksgiving ends, a more humble people (assuming that thanks was given) moves forward in life with Christmas just around the corner. For Christians and non-Christians alike, the Christmas season leads people to be focused on giving. For some, the giving is of the service type, seeking out those who are in need, and attending to those needs in the best available manner. For others, the giving consists of gifts, whereby people seek to find gifts that are able to somehow express the love they have for the recipient. For many, it's a combination of the two. Regardless of the means of giving, people find a way to look outside themselves and lift the burdens of another; such acts are chalked up to people being overcome with the Spirit of Christmas, which is actually the Spirit of Christ.

Christ came into the world, born in a manger. He was the Son of God, and yet His birth was without fanfare. The Creator of us all, He who stood at the right hand of God, was born in the most humble of circumstances. Those who know very little about the Lamb of God often know of His birth and His death; each event being an epitome of sacrifice. However, as one studies His life, it becomes apparent that His life itself was the essence of sacrifice for loved ones. Through His sacrifice He gave us all the ability to overcome death and sin; the former a free gift given to all, and the latter an opportunity for us all to take, if we so desired. Those who desired would need to develop faith in Christ, repent of their sins (or change from their sinful ways), be baptized by one with authority, receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost and endure to the end.

The humility that accompanies Thanksgiving prepares people for the giving of Christmas. When someone recognizes how much of the good in one's life comes from another, the desire to give and serve others grows. By acting on that desire, one follows in the footsteps of the Savior, bringing about a faith in Christ. That faith leads to repentance or change, which we all strive to accomplish with something known as New Year's resolutions. I find it amazing that over the course of a few months, people, as a whole, begin walking in the path that Christ outlined for us in His gospel. Many people's resolution to change fail them, and goals which were so passionately decided on fall by the wayside. But for those who resolutely move forward their lives become better; they experience to a small degree the joy of the atonement of Christ, as they change their nature and fulfill more of their God given potential.

So although Christ's birth occurred on April 6th, the sandwiching of Christmas between Thanksgiving and the New Year's allows for a perfect holiday crescendo, which will hopefully carry us upward as we continue our journey into 2009.

1 comment:

Christine said...

April 6th? Really? Very interesting. I learned something new today! Now I hope a comment=:)andy.