January 9, 1978
All the traditions associated with Christmas were observed as usual in the past holiday season including the chorus of complaints that over-commercialization is robbing the day of its true meaning. I'll have to confess I can't join that chorus. Somehow the ads offering helpful gift suggestions when we are filled with the spirit of giving, the decorations on the streets and in the stores, the familiar carols add to the Christmas spirit for me and don't really strike me as crass or inssensitive money grubbing.
I am disturbed however about something I read over the holidays which could *really* rob Christmas of its meaning for millions of us who see it as more than just the birthday of a great and good teacher. I realize there are those who by religious belief consider Jesus a very human prophet whose teachings about love for one another, treating others as we would like to be treated ourselves are sound patterns for living; that he is to be respected but not worshiped.
But for many of us he is much more. He is the promised messiah, the Son of God come to earth to offer salvation for all mankind. It was disturbing therefore to read that in many Christian seminaries there is an increasing tendency to minimize his divinity, to reject the miracle of his birth and regard him merely as human.
Meaning no disrespect to the religious convictions of others, I still can't help wondering how we can explain away what to me is the greatest miracle of all and which is recorded in history. No one denies there was such a Man, that He lived and that He was put to death by crucifixion.
Where then you may ask is the miracle I spoke of? Well consider this and let your imagination translate the story into your own time -– possibly to your own home town. A young man whose father is a carpenter grows up working in His father's shop. He has no formal education. He owns no property of any kind. One day He puts down his tools and walks out of His father's shop. He starts preaching on street corners and in the nearby countryside. Walking from place to place preaching all the while even though he is in no way an ordained minister he never gets farther than a narea perhaps 100 miles wide at the most.
He does this for three years. Then He is arrested, tried and convicted. There is no court of appeal so He is executed at age 33 along with two common thieves. Those in charge of His execution roll dice to see who gets His clothing -- the only possessions he has. His family cannot afford a burial place so he is interred in a borrowed tomb.
End of story? No this uneducated, propertyless young man who preached on street corners for only three years who left no written word has for 2000 years had a greater effect on the entire world than all the rulers, kings and emperors, all the conquerors, the generals and admirals, all the scholars, scientists and philosophers who have ever lived -- all put together.
How do we explain that? -- Unless He really was what he said he was.
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