I am drinking coffee out of my special Christmas mug, unpacked at this time of year and put back in storage after a few weeks—along with lights, ornaments, wrapping paper and other Christmas things. These connect me to the traditions of Christmas that have been part of my life since childhood: gathering with family, taking time off work and school for games and meals and giving presents.
I call myself a secular Christian or a cultural Christian because I was raised with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny: traditions coinciding with the religious holidays of Christianity, but whose meaning was all about family togetherness and very little about religious belief.
At some point I rejected the mainstream religious notion that Jesus died and was born again, and the notion of being saved somehow by or through Jesus. However, I later embraced the figure of Jesus as a teacher and a healer, as a prophet who preached radical love. In honor of Christmas, I uplift the message of that Jesus that I believe in: that everyone is worthy, rich or poor; outcast or noble; that we should love one another.
Merry Christmas. If this is a holiday with meaning for you – deep religious meaning or the equally important meaning of family tradition – I hope you enjoy it. If Christmas is completely outside of your religious identity, I hope you enjoy the quiet of a day when almost everything is closed. And may we all be blessed by the message of love and hope that is at the core of the Christmas story: a baby born in difficult times giving hope to his family and to others.
May every child born be blessed and honored as special, as the child of God, as a holy being sent to bring hope, love and peace. May each of us see ourselves in that child, represented in the Christian tradition by the baby Jesus.
May we be wise enough to see universal wisdom and truth in the stories and holidays of many religious traditions – those we were born into, and those we learn about later in life.
May Christmas be a day of peace, love and joy for the whole world with no exceptions.
Rev. Andrew Frantz
Rev. Andrew Frantz
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