Sunday, December 25, 2011
The Spirit of Christmas
There's been a few more stories in the news that I've bookmarked to report on after Christmas was over. More stories about the Hells Angels including the arrest of Paul "Sasquatch" Porter as well as some more stories about police brutality and cover ups. I didn't want to hide to negative press about the police, I just wanted to wait until after Christmas to post about it because this Christmas I really wanted to salute law enforcement. After all, where would we be without law enforcement? The rule of law protects a peaceful society like traffic lights protect the flow of traffic.
When we talk about the spirit of Christmas we can joke about the wide range of symbolism that has for different people. The first image that comes to mind is road rage. I was joking about Christmas road rage with a friend at work and he shared about how he was recently in a long line at a store. There was a lady behind him in the line obviously in a hurry. She was obviously irritated by the long line. She was huffing and puffing then budging forward every inch the line moved. She kept banging into my colleague in the back with her parcels. Finally he was like Lady, this is a line. Pushing me isn't going to make the line go any faster.
The same with tailgating in traffic. That's how you get multiple car pile ups on the freeway. Ever heard of a safe following distance? Sure the idiot going slow in the fast lane is very irritating. Yet so is the weasel that cuts in line at the last minute. Idiots and weasels raise the level of road rage. Yet not doubt all of us could do well to slow down and smell the roses so to speak.
Life really is too short. I saw a picture of a snowman in the city with the sign "I will be dead soon." Indeed. Relatively speaking won't we all. The question is, what are we going to do while we are here? Life does not end at death. Surely there is a higher purpose behind this mortal probation. If life is a test, then how are we doing?
There's something about Christmas that strives to help us put things in perspective. No doubt there are commercial distractions. I remember one year they put a huge sign on the over pass at Guildford Mall that said have a Big Beautiful Christmas. I was somewhat offended by the idea of having to come in to the mall and spend a lot of money to have a Big Christmas. That was somewhat self defeating and missed the real point.
We talk about Christmas magic. Well when the kids were young magical it was. My kids were like "other families open their presents on Christmas eve" and I would always be like "well we're not other families." I realize that's a big tradition in Europe and more power to them. I just found that opening all your presents Christmas eve diminished the magic of Christmas morning. When a young child wiping the sleep from their eyes lights up in excitement. That is magic.
We talk about the Christmas miracle which can take on different meaning for different people. For Christians the Christmas birth is a profound miracle. Any birth of any child is a miracle. Two years ago I talked about the Christmas miracle on the battlefield in WWI. In many ways, I'm cynical. Why would two groups of people be shooting and bombing each other, take a few moments out to give each other presents, then go back to shooting and bombing each other the next day. Somehow the intent of Christmas is to last longer than a few hours once a year.
Yet there is a certain magic about Christmas that when it materializes it does give us hope. It gives us hope that if something good or charitable can happen on Christmas, then it can happen at other times too. Christmas then becomes liberty's light illuminating the path to a better way. Even in Surrey I was told about a woman in a grocery store having trouble with her bank card. She had to step aside and phone her bank to find out what the problem was. The man behind her in the line forgot his debit card when he paid for his groceries. When he came back for his card he saw the woman still struggling with the bank on the phone. He told the cashier he wanted to pay for that woman's groceries. Are you sure the cashier said? It's over $50. Yes he replied Merry Christmas. It's nice to hear that real charity still exists in the world, even in Surrey. That's the kind of thing that makes you proud to be human. Aspiring to something higher.
Spending last night cleaning decorating and wrapping with a chain of not so traditional Christmas carols playing in the background including the seasonal Trans Siberian Orchestra, I couldn't help but notice the reoccurring theme of forgiveness, reconciliation and redemption.
They say to err is human and to forgive is divine. I remember someone I knew asking for my forgiveness once. I told them forgiveness is automatic, reconciliation is not. Sometimes the Christan concept of forgiveness can let us be trapped in an abusive relationship. All of us could to well to forgive more and judge less. Yet the people that really need to hear that don't listen while the people who are really forgiving take that message to heart and sometimes end up trapped in the cycle of abuse. I don't think God wants any of his children to be in abusive relationships. Sure anybody can change, yet that change doesn't come without honest disclosures and admissions of wrongdoing. A sincere confession comes with genuine sorrow and remorse followed by effort and hard work. After this sincere honesty comes the power of redemption and that truly is a miracle.
They remixed a Tupac song with an old song called Changes. In that song it says things changed, and that's the way it is. Then the chorus repeats: come on That's just the way it is, Things'll never be the same, That's just the way it is. So which is it? Things will never change or things will never be the same because they have changed. Then after repeating the old slogan of things will never change a voice pleads don't you believe it. Things can change. That is the Redemption of Christmas and it is a miracle. We are still free to chose and in the words of Led Zeppelin in Stairway to Heaven it isn't too late to change the road you're on. As Ozzy Osbourn said, see you on the other side.
To be perfectly honest, I'm surprised I'm still here. So Merry Christmas everyone. Even to my enemies. From a distance, we look like friends. Don't forget Anakin Skywalker was a talented Jedi. Luke was right. Darth Vader was capable of change. Don't you forget it. Come on dear brother, since the war is past, for friends at first are friends again at last.