“But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:19 NRSV
What difference would it makes in your life if there were no Christmas? I few years ago I attend a Youth Service in which this question was the theme. As the young speakers spoke on this topic I found myself really caught up in that question. What difference does Christmas make?
One answer is to get involved with the commercial aspects of the holiday and say that the merchants would be hurt economically. It seems as if Christmas is exploited commercially more and more as stores put out Christmas merchandise and put up Christmas decorations earlier and earlier. I think I saw some before Labor Day this year. Christmas shopping has become the main money making time of the year. This is shown by the whole “Black Friday” craze. Originally the day after Thanksgiving was called Black Friday because sales on that day are counted on to move the profit margin out of the Red, signifying loss, into the Black, signifying a profit. However now stores open on Thanksgiving evening or even stay open all day! So if Christmas had not happened there would be no Christmas shopping and the merchants would suffer.
Another answer comes on a deeper spiritual level and that is to say that if Christmas had not happened Jesus would not have been born. For on that first Christmas a Savior was given. Emmanuel came to redeem captive humanity. The Incarnation proves that God loves us enough to become one of us in order to save us. For without Christmas there could be no Easter. IF Jesus had not been born then he could not die on the cross and been raised again so that we could have a right relationship with. A relationship not marred and separated by sin.
Sadly not everyone knows this, or if they know about the meaning of Christmas they live as if they just do not care. For a majority of people spiritually it is as if Christmas had not happened! It seems that this was the case right from the start; the vast majority of people in Bethlehem that night did not have a clue as to what was happening. I rather imagine that many of the guests at the inn complained about the noise in the stable. After all there were shepherds coming and going and then there was that pesky star light shining so brightly that they just could not sleep. And the greatest gift the world has ever known went unappreciated.
One of my favorite parts of the Christmas story is what Luke said about Mary in the verse quoted above. She pondered these things in her heart. For me this says that even though Mary did not fully understand what all this meant, she knew that the birth of Jesus was something special and Mary knew that Christmas had changed people’s lives forever.
So this year take the time to ponder the true meaning of Jesus’ birth in your heart and do not get caught up in the buying and getting, the shopping and the giving and the spending, that you cannot enjoy the season. For if Christmas had not happened we would still be lost in our sins. May we all let the words of a great Christmas hymn give us guidance as we “go tell it on the mountain, over the hill and everywhere: go tell it not the mountain that Jesus Christ is born.” If we do that maybe everyone will say: “I would not like my life if Christmas had not happened,” and then the world will be a better place.