It's the most wonderful time of the year!! Christmas time! I have always loved Christmas, although my depression and bad memories have sabotaged my favorite season too often over the last fifteen years. But, why do we celebrate?
Yes, we need some kind of celebration to break up the short days of winter (although I didn't understand this when I lived in South Florida). And, yes, we need to celebrate something when it is so cold (although it's only chilly this year and I also didn't understand this when I lived in South Florida). And, yes, Christianity has basically appropriated pagan holidays to celebrate the birth of Jesus in December.
Let's face it. The evidence is that Jesus was born in the springtime. I assume that the Church appropriated pagan holidays in solidifying their hold over the culture. So, Christians celebrate Jesus' birth in the winter. And we know that Easter was in the spring, so the two holidays don't conflict and the church calendar (for more liturgical types) works out really well.
So, approximately 2015 years after the fact (give or take a few years), we celebrate the fact that a woman who was pregnant, but apparently still a virgin, was traveling with her husband, when they arrived in a small town for the census. In this small town, she gave birth in the corner of a barn or a communal room.
What? The God of the universe thought this was a good plan to save humanity from our sin? He starts out as a baby in a small town in Judea in a family headed by a carpenter. This does not really sound like a stellar start for the Son of God.
Luke tells us that angels appeared to shepherds out in the fields. Again, shepherds? My dad tells us that it is likely that these shepherds were watching the sheep that were likely to be used as offering in Jerusalem at the temple. This is really symbolic if you know the whole Christian narrative. Still. Shepherds.
Matthew at least tells us that Magi (wise men, magicians) from the East came to visit Jesus. That's a bit more like it. And the brought gifts! Of course, when they told Herod about a new king, Herod got all paranoid and ordered all baby boys killed. Which totally makes sense because extrabiblical sources also tell us that Herod was a homocidal maniac.
Given the above evidence, it would appear that Christians, like me, are crazy! But, I don't think so. (Obviously) Yes, God sent Jesus into the world in the most unlikely way, using several miracles - I'm not going to try to explain the virgin birth or angels appearing in the sky. Miracles. Jesus is a miracle. And his life, death and resurrection defy explanation, but that's how God works sometimes.
I believe in God's love. And God's love for humanity involved plenty of miracles. Believing that and loving God back is what gives my life meaning. God's not crazy, just into miracles for you and me.