Monday, December 30, 2013

The Both/And of Christmas

I received a Christmas greeting few days ago from a friend who celebrates Christmas on January 7th.  I am sure it was intended to be received as a blessing of Christ who came to earth to extend the message of reconciliation and peace with God to all mankind - regardless of our religion, the calendar we adhere to, culture and tradition.  

But I couldn’t help but notice a subtle partition… a slight note of separation…

To you, the Gregorians… … from us, the Julians.

Gregorians?!!! Julians?!!!  I had no idea I was considered a Gregorian until I received the card.

I stare at the words and marvel.

Here we are, celebrating the birth of the Savior of the world but can't help but point out how divided we are within His own family. And neither date is His actual birthday!

The calendar adjustment that took place within the Christian church in the 16th century was always an occasion for double celebration in our mixed (or maybe mixed-up!) family. We get to celebrate two Christmases and two New Years. It’s the best of both worlds! It’s like a re-run of your favorite TV show without all the stress of not knowing what’s going to happen in the end.  It’s like truly savoring a delicious meal the day after all the craziness and exhaustion of four-burners-and-the-oven-all-on preparations is behind you and now you can actually sit down, take a deep breath and fully enjoy each bite.

The diversity of the body of Christ doesn’t have to be divisive.  In fact, the diversity is intended to be enjoyed and celebrated as a gift of multifaceted grace and generosity of our God who came to us all… Gregorians and Julians, Hindus and Muslims, Jews and Atheists, Gay and Straight. Republicans and Democrats. 

He knew we all were completely powerless on our own. 

Christmas - the coming of Christ to earth was God’s decisive verdict on the futility of all our human effort to save ourselves. What we couldn’t do for ourselves – with our hard work, with our religion, with our self-improvement and resolutions, our knowledge and expertise -  He did. 

Once for all. 

On the Cross.

And started a new – eternal – calendar. 

Beginning with today.

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