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Life, Death & Christmas

December 19th, 2015 | Tags: Christmas love paganism Christmas meaning Jesus
Dickson Igwe. Photo: VINO/File
By Dickson Igwe

Life, death and Christmas are interwoven themes. And the songwriter writes: "Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year." And it certainly is. One can smell, taste, and feel Christmas in the air.

A year ends and there is the scent of pine fir, cooler nights, and decorated and lighted store fronts. Suddenly, there is greater goodwill between normally quarrelsome neighbors, and a nightingale sings in London’s Berkeley Square. There is a magical quality about the second half of December.

And even before the advent of Christ, over two thousand years past, in the barbaric forests of Northern Europe, there were celebrations, by various peoples like the Norse who instinctively felt December to be a special time. For the Norse, it was a time of new beginnings, of new joy, of great expectancy.

In Scandinavia, there was the celebration of Yule starting December 21: and that was one long feast. Even in Germany, there were celebrations to pagan Gods at December, especially the god Ogden. These celebrations are analogies to today’s consumer oriented feasting during the month of December.

In the North Westerly latitudes, at this time of the year, it is a time of snowmen, cold frosty evenings, white Christmases, and families sitting down to turkey, ham, roast beef and Christmas pudding. Chestnuts roast on an open fire. 

It is a time of celebration: the worst of the winter season is over. There is a natural expectancy of better things ahead: a time for New Year resolution, spring is in the air. Andy Williams sang, "it’s the most wonderful time of the year. With the kids jingle belling, and everyone telling you to be in good cheer."

At Christmas time, the same feelings of wonder and merriment are had in the warmer even hot South Westerly latitudes and climes. At home in the Caribbean, it is still the most wonderful time of the year. It is a time of family getting together, increased religious activity, Christmas carols, and Christmas shopping, partying, and general merriment.

It is also a time of reflection: what will the new-year bring?

And loved ones who have passed on come to mind. Death is still that great insurmountable barrier. It is the greatest and most overwhelming mystery in living existence, and the ultimate equalizer, with no respect for wealth and power.

At death, the billionaire is no better than the poorest beggar, king and peasant; they inhabit a common domain when the grim reaper appears.

Death is paradoxically why Christmas is the most joyous time of the year. And this is evidently not understood by the majority of global consumers, who see Christmas as an orgy of shopping, eating, drinking, and carousing.

The retail trade especially views Christmas-time as its most important season. It is the time the Wall-marts, and K-marts, and Macys of this world earn the majority of their profits. The greatest percentage of revenues and profits are made in December by retailers in Road Town.

Christmas is the most important time for the global capitalist creed of unlimited consumerism and materiality.

And all of this activity negates the true meaning of Christmas for the Christian believer, the observer of other majority religions, even the agnostic and atheist alike: the defeat of death.

Over two thousand years ago, and this Christians fervently believe, the greatest event of all time occurred.

The God of this Universe, the creator of time and space, put on the garb of his creation, and stepped into time, a vulnerable baby in a manger. He spent thirty-three years on earth, a living example of human love and humility. His violent death, at the hands of the religious authorities appeared to be the end of His life.  

But in the greatest twist of all time, His death on a wooden Roman cross, put to an end the idea of eternal oblivion in a cold grave, and at Easter, His resurrection from that grave, proffered the greatest hope of all time: eternal life and the hope of reunion with loved ones already passed on.

Yes, that is the true meaning of Christmas. The celebration of the greatest gift ever offered to anyone. The celebration of true love: God offering the gift of Himself, through Jesus Christ, for a decaying and dying humanity.  

As we sit down with loved ones this Christmas Time to feast at the dining table, and open up the presents under the tree, all the while surrounded by the distracting and mind numbing sensations of the citadels and articles of secularism, consumerism and pleasure, let us make one great effort, to keep at the back of the mind what Christmas really means.
Christmas is the celebration of the greatest gift of all time offered to a troubled world by the all- powerful God of Christendom- the Gift of His love.

And the words of Jesus Christ ring ever true, especially at this season: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Add to these, the words of the greatest Apostle to the gentile world: Paul of Tarsus- "and now abide faith, hope, love, these three, but the greatest of these is love."

Yes, the true meaning of Christmas is love.

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