I’d like to preface this article noting that I am not of any particular religious denomination. I’m using this article as an opportunity for discussion about Christmas and to look into the deeper meaning of what Christmas represents.
Christmas is a time of year when people come together and celebrate.It’s a birthday celebration, a big birthday party for Jesus, and birthdays are to be celebrated and that’s why we say “Merry Christmas!”
Christmas literally means Christ’s Mass derived from Jesus Christ who is known as the central figure of Christianity.
As Christmas decorations start appearing in streets, department stores, cafes and shops with “Merry Xmas and Happy New Year” emblazoned on their windows I really do wonder what Christmas is all about.
Christmas means different things to different people - maybe it’s a celebration of family, or voting for a candidate who got elected, finishing an assignment or just the fact you made it through another year.
However, the reason behind Christmas is the birth of Jesus Christ, as mentioned.
I loved attending Sunday school as a child and listening to biblical stories. How wonderful the world is to an eight year old!
Yet I was very surprised to learn that although my grandmother was alive and well, I hadn’t met her. I didn’t understand, and we all lived in Perth! My father who was Jewish married my Protestant mother and there lay intolerance - a family division due to religious beliefs and customs.
In Sunday school and in our home, we were taught to treat everyone equally, just as Jesus had. Interestingly, Jesus was Jewish and preached tolerance, yet my grandmother, also Jewish, displayed intolerance and disowned her son! That left me confused. I never did meet my grandmother.
The teachings of Jesus, along with those of many other leaders, are simple – love, tolerance, honesty, forgiveness and to be non judgmental. They are very simple guidelines to live by.
Here is a brief summary of Jesus’ teachings:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul, your mind and with all your strength. Love your neighbour as yourself. There is no greater commandment greater than these.” Jesus taught us to care for one another and encouraged us to care for those in need.
One of his most difficult teachings is to love our enemy. He explained, “Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.”
He taught forgiveness, regardless of another person’s religion, beliefs, actions or words.
If someone is nasty or unkind to you, forgive, as Jesus did.
It is not for any one of us to judge: “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.” Everyone has free will.It is not for anyone to criticise or condemn another’s actions, or to tell others what to do.
Wealth and Poverty
Jesus did not say it was a sin to be wealthy but we must remain focused on things that are important – loving, forgiveness, not to judge others, give to the poor, be genuine and not hypocritical, to pray and to have faith.
Although we are predominantly a Christian country and follow the teachings of Jesus, let’s not forget the many wise men and women before and after Jesus preaching and living by example how to love, be considerate of all sentient beings, be passionate, and to live generously in thought, word and deed.
It is said that Islam signifies peace and reconciliation.
Confucius, the Chinese philosopher, has often been quoted throughout the ages, “Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself”. He emphasised the value of diplomacy over warfare and thought family loyalty was very important.
The Buddha surrendered his royal right to live a life of poverty and formulated the Four Noble Truths (truth of suffering, cause of suffering, truth to end suffering and the truth that leads to end suffering.This is not to deny pleasure but rather an attempt to see the world as it is and to rectify it).
The Dalai Lama preaches messages of peace and compassion, happiness and no suffering.
Today I see Christmas as the wonderful event that brings people together, particularly families. Children living away from home often make the pilgrimage at this time of year from places far away.
When we see through the synthetic marketing of merchandise we can view Christmas for what it is - a beautiful and sacred symbol of love and unity.
When we give to those less fortunate, practise tolerance and to love everyone and everything, together we shall create a truly perfect place in which to live.