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How would Jesus celebrate Christmas?
Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
December 2, 2008
How would Jesus celebrate Christmas? When I asked this question last week, I did so with the knowledge that Jesus predates Christmas historically by a few hundred years and that Judaism didn't, and doesn't, venerate the birth of the Christ child. The question was rhetorical, but the inquiry itself sincere.
If we accept the premise of the question "How would Jesus celebrate Christmas?" as an exercise in critical thought, mixing myth with metaphor is unavoidable. After all, Christmas as we know it is a merging of myth and mendacity, religion and retail. So why not throw in a little time travel as well?
"How would Jesus celebrate Christmas?"
As a non-Christian, tree hugging, iconoclast, I ask this question to shed some light on the real reasons for the seasons and holiday contradictions that define the modern Christian holiday. I mean really, would Jesus be caught dead wearing jingle bells and plush reindeer antlers.
Going to the New Testament, Matthew chapter 6, verse 19, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on Earth, where moth and rust destroy and thieves do not break in and steal."
The text suggests Jesus would not be at Walmart before sunrise looking for Black Friday bargains. In fact it would seem Jesus would have had something to say about ritual gift giving.
Jesus was not into stuff. And if Jesus wasn't in to stuff, reason follows that presents, and trees to put them under, would probably not factored into his birthday festivities. Jesus was also not into garish displays of charity; "Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them." Matthew chapter 6, verse 1.
From my limited Bible study it's safe to say Jesus disapproved of gluttony and excessive drink, and because Jesus was Jewish we can rule out Christmas ham, drunken eggnog, and the mountains of candy, cookies, cakes and other sugar bombs we gorge ourselves in honor of the birth of the Christ child.
Jesus would also not go into debt in order to spend lavishly on as dictated by the western tradition of conspicuous consumption.
So basically everything associated with Christmas is in direct contradiction to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Judaism that shaped his faith. Can you image How Jesus would respond to Christmas lights, fake snow, and the amount of solid waste generated as a result of Christmas gift giving?
In fact Jesus wouldn't have celebrated his birthday, as it was not the tradition, nor the custom to do so until 336 AD.
From what I could ascertain the answer to my question is "Jesus would humbly spend the anniversary of his birth in service to others less fortunate." You know, feeding the poor, tending the sick, promoting simplicity and sacrifice and encouraging general grooviness to all who would hear his message of care and compassion.
Jesus didn't "do" Christmas.