Friday, December 23, 2011
Wholly Holy Holydays
Wholly Holy Holydays
By Tom Wachunas
“The idea of a great moral teacher saying what Christ said is out of the question. In my opinion, the only person who can say that sort of thing is either God or a complete lunatic suffering from that form of delusion which undermines the whole mind of man…We may note in passing that He was never regarded as a mere moral teacher. He did not produce that effect on any of the people who actually met Him. He produced mainly three effects – Hatred – Terror – Adoration. There was no trace of people expressing mild approval.” -C.S.Lewis -
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” - John 20:29 –
Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished! - Luke 1:45 –
Today is Friday, December 23, the day before Christmas Eve. Years ago, my wife, Martha, told me that she calls this day “Christmas Adam.” It’s an endearing assignation, and not hard to figure out. Adam came before Eve. Today puts me in mind of first things first. Primary attentions. Priorities. So here’s a few thoughts on Christmas.
One particularly impactful essay by C.S. Lewis (quoted above), originally published in his 1970 book, “God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics,” begins, “What are we to make of Jesus Christ?” Lewis immediately follows the question by observing that it has “…a frantically comic side.” I’ve come to regard the wording of his observation as meaning ‘tragically ironic.’ He continues, “For the real question is not what are we to make of Christ, but what is He to make of us?”
In occupying my thoughts with great persistence over the past several weeks, this ‘real question’ is to me in many ways a real shame, if only because I pray on it too much just seasonally, or on Sundays, and not enough daily. Otherwise, I allow our terribly addled world to prey on my time and allegiances, thus too often making its priorities my own. Thinking about such things especially at this time of year is easy enough, even as it might smack of cookie-cutter religiosity or a hollow sense of tradition and spiritual ‘duty.’ Is the question one to be trotted out annually like a favorite Christmas bauble, only to be packed up and stored away until next year?
Additionally, throughout this Christmas season of 2011, I have often painted in my mind’s eye the image of a weary Jesus asking the world at large, “What have you made of Christmas?” And the only way for me to honestly respond is to daily come back to what, exactly, I am willing to let Jesus, my Creator and Lord, make of me. It is a matter far more urgent than just “keeping” Him as a great teacher, or feel-good abstraction of goodness in a season that bears His name. The truth, indeed the reality, is that He came to reveal, and keep ALL of us in, what he IS - living, unspeakably glorious Love, Joy, Hope, and Peace. Forever.
First things first. By His grace, believing IS seeing. May your eyes, then, be filled with the light of Jesus. Merry Christmas.
Photo: My 2011 Christmas oil painting/greeting card.