The question has been asked, “Is Christmas still relevant?” In our modern, enlightened world, with information at our fingertips and life moving forward at breakneck speed, does this holiday even have anything to offer us anymore? What does the “archaic” Christian tradition of celebrating the seemingly obscure birth of a baby born more than 2,000 years ago even mean in a modern context?
For me, it means everything.
Because I’m not as smart and self-sufficient as I’d like to think I am. And if world events are any indication, none of us are. In 2013, we’re only one year on from Sandy Hook and just days from a school shooting in Denver. This year, there is war and unspeakable suffering in the Central African Republic. This year, there is bloodshed in the Middle East and in the mid-West. This year, there were bombings in Boston. This year, families are broken and children scarred by divorce and dysfunction and abuse at record levels. This year, too many are burdened by poverty and economic hardship.
We need Christmas for so many reasons. We need it because there is unexplained suffering. We need it because there is pain and betrayal and sorrow. We need it because there is darkness in every human heart. In yours. And in mine.
When confronted with the ugliness of the world around us—and within us—where can we turn? To the Christ Child, who was called Emmanuel, “God with us.” To the God of the universe who took on human form to save His people from their sins. We will still experience suffering in this world, but I believe that Jesus Himself enters into that suffering with us.
The prophet Isaiah said that “he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
Is Christmas still relevant? There can be no question. We need it. The world is as broken as ever, but the Child in the manger calls out to each one of us: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
(Video courtesy of “Son of God,” a feature film by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey set to release in February 2014.)