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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Two Great Dichotomies

By Chester M. Callan
     I remember as a child the excitement and joy of the Christmas holidays.  Not only did we get out of school for two or three weeks, but there was lots of good food, company, laughter and of course “gifts.”  Many of our popular Christmas songs, express the idea of joy, happiness, good times as a part of the expectations of this time of the year.  There are two songs about Christmas that make me feel sad every time I hear them. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” and “I’m Dreaming Of A White Christmas.”  When I hear them, realize that I can’t go back and relive those golden memories.  I am reminded that there are many who cannot go home for Christmas as well as how fleeting those joyous moment were.  Yes, I do enjoy the holiday season, especially the gathering of the family, the laughter, the food and the giving of gifts.  The problem I have is, I no longer view the season through the eyes of a child; my mind had been polluted by the cares of the world.  I now know that there are many who will not have enough to eat on this day or have a gift to give or receive, or even have some one to talk to.  It is no wonder that there is an increase in suicides and depression during the Christmas time.  There in lies a dichotomy (division into two usually contradictory parts), what for some is wonderful and joyous for others is sad and depressive.  Sometimes I just wish that everybody in the world could wake up on Christmas morning and find a present under a “tree” and a turkey on the table.
     There is another side to the Christmas story, the birth of Christ and I believe there is a dichotomy here as well.  No one knows the date that Christ was  born, but all evidence would suggest it was not in December, more likely in the spring of the year.  December the 25th is the date our country and most countries around the world celebrate his birth.  Other than the events recorded about his birth there is no command or example of an observance of his birthday.  Yet, the events of his birth must be important or else why are they recorded in the holy writings?
     Having a special day to remember seems a logical thing for humans to do, but what have we done to this celebration?  It has become all about money and pleasure and there in lies the dichotomy.  The merchants look forward to December because of the increased sales of Christmas presents.  We have increasing emphasis on sporting events, travel, parties and feast.  Is that what the birth of Christ is all about?  I think not!  It now seems to be all about pleasure and self-satisfaction and not about giving.
     I wonder, did God refrain from asking us to celebrate Christ but once a year, because he knew we would mess it up.  Instead he gave us the Lord’s Supper to observe every Sunday (yet, sometimes we even mess that up). It would be wonderful if the world could hear the message of the birth of Christ and turn to him and follow his commandments, but with Christmas like it is today how can they hear the message?
     Yes, I know it is true that many groups have special events to memorialize the events that took place so many years ago.  It is also true that more people are talking about Christ during this time of the year than any other. The shame of it all is we have placed our emphasis on the wrong event.  We need to focus our attention on the resurrection of Christ.  That is the important message the world needs to hear.  The dichotomy is simple, we claim to celebrate the birth of Christ, but instead celebrate our craving for pleasure.  Christ birth was and is an important event in the history of the world, which we claim to celebrate but the truth is we really do not.
     What if we stopped giving each other expensive presents and gave that money to those who are truly in need?  What a glorious tribute that would be to the Christ child that gave so much for mankind.

 - C. M.Callan serves as an elder of the Church of Christ in Rotan, TX. He may be contacted at 

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