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To Celebrate Christmas

Rev. Robert Dorris

Homestead, Florida

 

Each year, at this time, Churches around the world are preparing for the celebration of Christmas. Most mainline churches are preparing pageants, caroling services, and candle light services. Other churches are planning services that explain the story of Christmas and its roots in pagan traditions. This is usually coupled with caroling and readings that may or may not give meaning to Christmas.

Many individuals, including ministers, would like to see Christmas celebrations go away.  Why?  Because of the over-commercialization of Christmas; and because it is a time of depression for many people, a time of over spending, and a time of endless parties where families are neglected, financial budgets are strained, and work productivity comes to a standstill. To many people the Christmas season brings on a sense of hopelessness and loneliness. Assaults increase, robberies increase, home invasions increase, and hospital emergency rooms are overflowing with all types of mental and physical ailments.

On the surface, it would seem that Christmas should be abolished. It seems that any special spiritual meaning that should be attached to Christmas has been lost. Many Unitarians are asking why we should celebrate Christmas at all—since we do not believe that Jesus is God. This too, demonstrates that the meaning and spirit of Christmas has been lost.

Why then would we, Unitarians, celebrate Christmas?

This seems to be the very perplexing question.

Despite all that has been said so far, Christmas can be a very very important holiday even to Unitarians.  “What!” you say.  “Why?” you ask.

As Unitarians, we believe that there is only one God. However, in our western culture, the teachings of Jesus the Nazarene have proved to be the foundation stone that has kept the Unitarian tradition alive. It is a day on which we celebrate his birth, not as God incarnate, but as a founder of our religion. It should be a day of giving thanks for his contribution and an acknowledgment of the example that his life set of the western world.

It does not matter if he was born of a virgin, born in a stable or a cave, born to a rich family or a poor one. What does matter is that we acknowledge his role and his place in the Unitarian tradition. (If you like, expand the celebration to include all the anointed ones, and the great teachers of humanity; past, present, and future.)

Do we need to buy into the commercialism?  NO!

Do we need to follow established tradition?    NO!

Do we need to acknowledge Jesus (and others) for their contributions?  YES!

How?  Have a Birthday Party.

When?  December 25 seems like a good day.

Where?  Your home is the perfect place.

What should the guests bring?  No gifts required! Just ask them to bring an open heart, a spirit of fellowship and friendship, and a spirit of thanksgiving.

What should we do?  Share a meal. Share your joy.  Share your thoughts and feelings. Share your dreams. Above all, share your love for God and your love for your brothers and sisters, your family and friends.

Why?  Maybe, just maybe, in this way we can reignite the true spirit of Christmas -- The sharing of our love.


© 2003 American Unitarian Conference