The Meaning of Christmas

The Meaning of Christmas

Reason to Celebrate …

2020 was a challenging year due to the pandemic that altered the way we celebrate special holidays like not meeting in person with our families and friends for dinner. Despite the health risks for a face-to-face gathering, many are choosing to continue traditional family celebrations, willing to face whatever the consequences that may follow.

For millions of believing Christians in the world, Christmas is the most significant time of the year which returns us to the birth of Christ in the age-old telling of the baby, born to Mary who is taken by her husband Joseph to the town of Bethlehem where there is no room at the inn. Fortunately, they find shelter and baby Jesus has a manger for His first sleep on Earth. Three wise men travel from afar to bring gifts to the infant, in joyful response to the Good News brought to them by angels announcing the arrival of the Son of God, sent to Earth to bring salvation to all who choose the path to heaven.

The Holy Nativity during a Christmas Pageant at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church.
Photo: Alfredo Evangelista

Over the centuries since His birth, Christmas continues to bring hope, joy, and love to the people, serving as a symbol of faith and a year-round reminder that all of us can live in the way of Christ. Perhaps the most important impact of Christmas is how it cements the core of meaning to our efforts to become the very best of who we are, that angel trumpet that calls us throughout the year to face every decision, large and small, with the highest and best within our own humanity. Every soul gives personal meaning to life experience and with each experience can come a deeper, more profound expression of what it means to walk like Christ on the path of hope, joy and love, which when experienced together as a community, leads us closer to each other and to God.

For some, the glorious offerings of gifts brought by the three wise men is an enjoyable practice that is shared easily by families, friends and associates of all ages, in a wide variety of human connections. Christmas is not just exchanging gifts but more of a time to remember the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God who came to earth to save those who are lost. He is the only bridge to our Father in Heaven (John 14:6).

The greatest gift we can share during this Christmas holiday is to give love, joy and hope to others, especially by helping those who are less fortunate, at a time when showing compassion is even more meaningful and appreciated. The virus brings us to a new normal, where virtual ZOOM meetings are the best means to communicate with our loved ones, to avoid its predictable spread. The Christmas plan for my wife and me in 2020 is to spend face-to-face time with our children and grandchildren and to let them know how much we love and care for them. I can hardly wait to give them each a big hug and to read their favorite Christmas story as they listen closely, nearby.

The custom of gifts in this sacred season is infused with greater meaning within the context of the first gifts for the Christ child, where this custom began as a way to convey to each other the love, care and affection we share, especially through those difficult times of trials and challenges, so often unexpressed—even when deeply felt and greatly appreciated.

Angels, shepherds and wise men surround the Holy Family.
Photo: Alfredo Evangelista

What a year it has been! Now the world news reports give us reason to believe we can look forward to a New Year, with its promise for compassion, empathy, honesty and the strengths of diversity in our new national leadership. As we hope with all our hearts for a unified nation, re-establishing long friendships with other countries around the globe uplifts our collective human spirit. With hands and hearts together, we can choose again to work as one, for the betterment of all humanity. Here’s to 2021!

As we celebrate Christmas this year, it is a time to reflect and remember what is really important in life—family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and yes, most of all, even a stranger.

To all our readers, have a Blessed Christmas and a Hopeful New Year!