6. There is Providence. There is a Plan – In our relativistic, subjective and individualistic age is is easy to believe that there is no plan, no providence, no great design and no great designer. The Christmas story forces everyone to ponder again whether or not there might just be an overarching plan for the world and for human history. Christians say this birth was the fulcrum on which the world was turned. It was the center point, the turning point…the whole point. Christmas makes us ask, if there is a plan, then there is meaning, and if there is meaning, then there is a purpose and if there is a plan and a purpose for the universe, then there is plan and a purpose for me. But on the other hand, if there is no plan and no purpose, then there is no meaning and if there is no meaning, then be an Epicurean or a Stoic then die.
7. Religion is Reality – Yes, I know. I know. Religious people are hypocrites. We don’t practice what we preach. We don’t care for the poor. We love money and power. We get messed up on sex. However, there is a reality to religion that will not go away. The human race is religious. Look around you. Its not just Christians. Its Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, animists and many more. What is this religious instinct in human beings? What is this urge to connect with the gods? Even if you are not a believer Christmas is a time to celebrate the real contributions of religion to human civilization: the art, the architecture, the music, the education, the sciences, the justice and moral code. All these are the fruit of religion and Christmas is a time to affirm all those good things.
8. Peace and Goodwill Hunting – Stop for a moment and consider the world before the coming of Christ. It was a cruel and heartless place. Power was everything. The strong won. The weak were killed. For centuries mankind had pursued the way of cruelty, bloodshed, feuds and fighting. Even the religions of the pagans were full of bloodshed, sacrifice and the worship of power. At the birth of Christ the angels revealed a new message for mankind: “Peace and Goodwill to All Humanity!” This is revolutionary and still is today. Whether you believe the Christmas story or not, you can celebrate the fact that at the heart of the story is a message of reconciliation, forgiveness, peace, justice and goodwill to all. Do not underestimate the revolutionary nature of this message. No other religion offers this in quite the same way, and it is only possible because Jesus Christ himself is the agent of reconciliation, peace and forgiveness in the world. Celebrate the fact that the Goodwill we were hunting for can be found.
9. The Weak are the Strong – Members of a good and decent society look after the weak, nurture the young, care for the elderly, nurse the sick and shelter the homeless. The Christmas story presents us with a family who are weak, lowly, homeless and threatened by violence. The Christmas story teaches us to value our fellow human beings who are at the bottom of the heap and to see in them the intrinsic worth of those who are at the top of the heap. Even if you do not believe the Christmas story you can celebrate and affirm these deeply human truths, and you can recognize that these truths are illustrated and incarnated by the child in the manger and his tender and helpless mother.
10. Do Not Be Afraid – The world around us and our own human hearts are filled with fear. We are filled with a deep and nameless fear that drives everything we do. All the negativities are driven by this deep inchoate fear. We seek power and pleasure to drive away the fear. We seek control and dominance to control the fear. We seek prestige and prosperity to avoid the fear. We seek possessions and personal relationships to comfort us in our fear, but the Christmas message time and again is “Fear Not!”. Why is this? Because perfect love casts out fear and at Christmas Christians say perfect love took human form to dwell in our midst and bring us to experience perfect love. Even if you do not believe the story you can believe the message and celebrate the hope that fear can be banished by perfect love.