Each year we come into the Christmas season led, or followed by every expectation on that scale from hope to dread. The needle is seldom stationary. Some of us compare our lives to the brightly colored images of merriment we see advertised and we find our own lives wanting. Some are filled with the spirit of fellowship and generosity and wonder why that spirit struggles to endure into the new year.
At our house this year, no one is waiting with growing anticipation to uncover the mysteries under the Christmas tree. The sound of children laughing, the smell of baking cookies, the voices of carolers, the joining of hands around the table, all are memories that grow dearer, and farther away, each year.
Whatever is left to us through choice and circumstance of the things most dear, time will eventually take from us anyhow. This year the seats around our family table are almost all empty. Yet today I am filled with gratitude, grateful to be alive, grateful for good health, for peace and comfort, for friends and family which remain, and countless other blessings. Which brings us to the question, “Why Christmas?” Why, indeed, Christianity?
Nothing I could say on the matter was not better said eighty years ago by C.S. Lewis, but he was not asked this very personal question quite recently, having said all he’s going to say on the matter. A personal question deserves a personal reply, especially when failing to do so defeats the purpose of having any faith at all, or perhaps negates it entirely.
I celebrate Christmas in commemoration of the birth of Christ, and to borrow for just a moment from Lewis, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
“But why? It’s not logical. It’s not historically accurate. It’s not scientific.”
Christ reminded us that we are part of something greater than ourselves. We live on a world we did not create, and as we move through it in ignorance or in spite, we cause harm, and a debt is owed for that damage. This is a debt which, through our own actions we cannot pay, but it was paid for us. The principle of sacrifice as a parent sacrifices for a child, or one mate for another, is imminently logical, and as old as life on earth.
Historically the Scriptures have stubbornly resisted debunking for centuries as archaeology continues to verify names and places as well as events. And scientifically? For me it was science which pointed the way back to faith. I studied quantum physics for a time in college while probing for a direction my major might take. Quantum physics is the study of possibility, where thought and attention become essential components of reality itself, where thought is a thing as real as any number of fundamental particles which only seem to exist when you’re looking at them.
It was actually Christian faith that saved my life. Once I became ill and there were no answers to be found in any of the religions that instruct us how to become worthy of the hereafter. The only “god” that listened was the One spoken to by a church that believes salvation is a gift, and while their faith supported my own tiny spark, my body healed. Science said that I would be left with a number of scars and disabilities, but through faith, the illness simply left, and by the grace of God I am today as strong as a mule, though not quite as pretty.
In the continuing practice of that faith, I discovered that Christianity simply works. When you converse with the Creator, things just have a way of working out. Synchronicities start appearing in your life, and apparent coincidences that seem to defy logic. It has little to do with belief. Belief engages facts and logic and is subject to the laws of creation. Faith, on the other hand, is about trust, and the science of possibility.
Asked and answered, with a few travel notes from one man’s journey. Everyone must make their own. I’ll leave you this week with another gem from C. S. Lewis: “Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.”
And a Merry Christmas to you all!