In a speech Pope Francis delivered recently at St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican he said that Christmas this year will be a “charade” because the “world continues to wage war” and “we do not understand peace.”
It is difficult to argue against the obvious facts of continuing war in the Middle East and other places and our inability as a race to understand and practise peace, but it is untimely and untrue to demean Christmas as a false event represented as true, which is pretty close to the meaning of charade. I would argue the opposite. If ever a dark world needed a glimpse of light that light is in the wonderful message of Christmas.
But to make the season significant, you have to cut through the veneer of all the bright lights, ridiculous commercialization, parties and excesses and deliberately focus on the true story and meaning of the event. And make no mistake, this event was the most significant in all of our history.
That Jesus was born in history is without dispute. The world may debate the significance of His birth if they like, but I love the words of Oswald Chambers the early 20th-century Scottish Baptist in his Christmas devotional commentary: “Jesus Christ was born into this world, not from it. He did not emerge out of history; He came into history from the outside. Jesus Christ is not the best human being the human race can boast of— He is a being for whom the human race can take no credit at all. He is not man becoming God, but God incarnate— God coming into human flesh from outside it. His life is the highest and the holiest entering through the most humble of doors. Our Lord’s birth was an advent— the appearance of God in human form.”
The grim picture the Pope paints of “Ruins, thousands of children without education, so many innocent victims and lots of money in the pockets of arms dealers” is a true picture, but against this dark backdrop the message of the Christ child has never been more relevant.