Christmas

Why a month for Christmas and a week for Easter?

Easter Bunny at Christmas cartoon 1This year the official Christmas season is the shortest it ever gets. My wife Shannon says it begins immediately after Thanksgiving, although many stores seem to think Christmas begins right after Labor Day.

Since Thanksgiving was on November 28 this year (the 4th Thursday of November), the period between the two holidays is a short as it gets this year.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas.  But a question comes to mind even in the midst of this abridged holiday season.

Why do we celebrate Christmas for a month and Easter for a week? Is Jesus’ birth four times more important than his death?  I could be wrong here, but theologically, I think his death is more fundamental to my faith. Yes, I realize Jesus couldn’t die unless he was first born, but it wasn’t his birth that paid the price for our sins. That would be his death.

To be precise, for Easter, we don’t just celebrate his death, we also celebrating his resurrection. So, Easter celebrations essentially commemorate the two most important events in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

(Another question, how do we go from Friday afternoon (cross) to Sunday morning (empty grave) and come up with three days? That sounds like a day and half to me. I may need to revisit this question in 3 months.)

So, perhaps we should make Christmas not just a celebration of his birth, but also a celebration of his life? Just as we celebrate two things for Easter, we could celebrate two things for Christmas. Personally, Jesus’ life is more important to my faith that his birth. (Although, it is pretty amazing that Baby Jesus didn’t cry.)  During his life he healed, he taught, he forgave, he prayed, he provided food and wine, he showed compassion. Those are impressive. Celebration-worthy.

As a baby he was given gifts by the five wise men (Scripture never says there were three guys, just three gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh-I think five guys went in for 3 gifts, which would make more sense in their communal culture), but receiving gifts isn’t that impressive. Even I can do that. (Yes, I haven’t forgotten about Baby Jesus’ lack of crying, which is still impressive.) Everyone says I’m better at receiving gifts than giving gifts.

If Jesus’ birth is so important, why do Mark and John skip it? Half the Gospels omit his birth narrative completely. They don’t skip his life, but go into great detail talking about what he did during his ministry here on earth. But we decide to devote a month of our holiday calendar to celebrate his birth. Doesn’t that seem a bit off to you? So, let’s just expand our Christmas celebrations to include recollections of Jesus’ life on earth as he was God-incarnate, word-made flesh, Immanuel, God-with-us.

Thank you

The month of October is dominated by Halloween.  Everything becomes orange and black.  People work on their costumes.   Homes begin to stock-pile candy.  Pumpkins that haven’t been decimated by hurricane Irene are carved.   If a sporting event occurs sometime near Halloween, viewers are subjected to crazed fans who’ve donned outrageous or scary outfits for their five seconds of fame.  We are forced to forgo chocolate-chip cookies for much less desirable baked goods from the guts of discarded orange vegetables.

The month of December is dominated by Christmas. Everything becomes green and red.  People work on their shopping.  Homes begin to stockpile presents.  Christmas songs are heard everywhere.  Trees, decorations, lights, you know the routine.  If a sporting event occurs during the month of December, viewers are subjected to crazed fans who’ve donned outrageous or “Santa-like” outfits for their five seconds of fame.  We are forced to forgo chocolate-chip cookies for much less desirable fruit-cake.  (Get serious, no one really eats that.)

The month of November is dominated by Thanksgiving.  Huh?  I don’t think so.  The beginning of November is Halloween hang-over.  The end of November is Christmas warm-up.  It’s now November 4 and no one has begun to gear up for Thanksgiving and it’s not going to happen until Nov. 23.  To start with Thanksgiving needs two distinct colors (yellow and purple?  Nah, that’s too much like LSU).  Any suggestions?  While Christmas should be a time to celebrate the incarnation of God, that’s not really what most of it’s about.  But Thanksgiving hasn’t been tainted by commercialism yet, so there’s still hope.

What would it be like to have a month that was characterized by people saying, “Thank you”?  How cool would that be?  To focus on thanking God and thanking others.

I’m thankful to God for a job where I get to do what I love, teach the Bible, and for a family that gives me joy and makes me laugh.

How would you suggest making giving-thanks a full-month celebration?