Sunday, December 4, 2011

Something New

I was driving today, listening to my Christmas music, and I realized I hadn't listened to Barlow Girl's rendition of "Carol of the Bells" lately. I strongly urge you to listen to it here, because it's awesome. Are you listening to it now? Good. Let's begin.

The Christmas Spirit... Every year there are new movies and television specials that attempt to capture it. It is usually thought to have something to do with children or family or giving for the sake of giving--it's generally  shown to be something along the lines of "children are precious," or "family is more important than presents." All of these movies are wrong. These are not "Christmas" things: they're just things. It is true that children are precious, and it is true that family is more important than gifts--but these things have always been true and they always will be true. Christmas, however, is about new things.

Christmas renews old things, and makes them more than they were before. That children are precious is an old thing, and that family is more important than gifts was already known. That first Christmas was something new, something that had never been seen before: finally there was something new under the sun, and the newness radiated out from that cave in Bethlehem and changed the world. It was in the old world that the sun set on Mary and Joseph knocking on locked doors, hoping against hope that a place could be found for them. And it was in the new world that the sun rose to the sound of a crying baby boy lying in a manger--and I think that when Mary heard those cries, she must have thought that she had never heard anything like it.

Every time a baby had been born before that point, it was an occasion of great joy--but always, always, there was the knowledge that the child was born into a world of pain and death and sin, that the child would die, must die. There was the sense that even this celebration of life and birth was vanity and a chasing after the wind. Children were precious... but they would be lost, eventually.

And then a special child was born, a child who would save his people from their sins--and everything was different. It was a birth not only of a child, but of the new world--a new world in which life did not have to be a mere progression towards death. It was a world where life could be a progression towards an even greater life. It was a world where God Himself had become a child, and as a result all children were infinitely more precious and could never be called meaningless again.

Because of Christmas, children can be even more precious to us, and family even more dear to us... but to say that those things are the point of Christmas is to miss it entirely. The meaning of Christmas is not subjective. It in no way depends on the one celebrating it. It is a reminder and celebration of that fixed point in time and space when Something New appeared under the sun, when something was done which had never been done before--it is a reminder of when everything was changed forever.

Christmas, people: accept no substitutes.


  1. I like your last point, nice tie in to ecclesiastes there.

  2. Thanks, Sean. I really think that the Incarnation completely shattered the world in which Solomon (or someone, at least) wrote Ecclesiastes. Something has been done which had never been done before, something new has appeared under the sun, and something has been done which will never be forgotten. Fearing and serving God is no longer a mere duty but a privilege. Everything is no longer vanity and a chasing after the wind... because God himself has done these things, and God cannot commit vanity.