Christmas is the most unsentimental way of looking at life By Timothy Keller via New York Post
Christmas is the only Christian holy day that is also a major secular holiday. This brings some discomfort on both sides. Many Christians can’t help but notice that more and more of the public festivities surrounding Christmas studiously avoid any references to its Christian origins. The background music in stores is moving from “Joy to the World” to “Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas.”
On the other hand, nonreligious people can’t help but find that the older meaning of Christmas keeps intruding uninvited, for instance, through the music of traditional Christmas carols. It can be irritating to have to answer their child’s question, “What does that music mean —‘born to give them second birth’?”
As a Christian believer, I am glad to share the virtues of that day with the entirety of society. My fear is, however, that its true roots will become more and more hidden to most of the population.
The secular Christmas is a festival of lights, a time for family gatherings, and a season to generously give to those closest to us and to those in greatest need. These practices are genuinely congruent with the Christian origins of the celebration. The emphasis on light in darkness comes from the Christian belief that the world’s hope comes from outside of it. The giving of gifts is a natural response to Jesus’ act of self-giving, when he laid aside his glory and was born into the human race. The concern for the needy recalls that the Son of God was born not into an aristocratic family but into a poor one. The Lord of the universe identified with the least and the most excluded of the human race.
But the truth is that Christmas, like God himself, is both more wondrous and more threatening than most understand.
Christmas is about receiving presents, but consider how challenging it is to receive certain kinds of gifts. Some gifts by their very nature make you swallow your pride. Imagine opening a present on Christmas morning from a friend — and it’s a dieting book. Then you take off another ribbon and wrapper and you find it is another book from another friend, “Overcoming Selfishness.” If you say to them, “Thank you so much,” you are in a sense admitting, “For indeed, I am fat and obnoxious.”