I have studied and rejected many of the tenets of organized religion. The history of the Christian church is a mixed history. While it has promoted peace and harmony at times, it has also worked hand in hand with despots in order to secure and maintain their own allocated powers over man. One only need look at the period from 500 to 1300 AD when many of the papal proved to be as greedy and corrupt and immoral as the royal despots. Even in our modern era many churches are all too willing to condemn the tenets of an alternative religion, in some cases for simply minor variances in religious beliefs or practices.
So does that mean I reject my God, my "creator?" Absolutely not. I simply don't believe any mortal has all the answers as to what God seeks from us. Instead, I believe that our creator instills in us a moral compass that, when we follow it, will always let us know when we are acting in variance to God's wishes.
And now, I come to Christmas. While many reject all facets of religious belief I believe Christmas is a celebration of a great man who walked the earth 2,000 years ago. A man who spoke softly and treated all he met with a compassion never seen by anyone before or since. A man who lived only 33 years, yet left a legacy of blessings and a philosophy of life that has endured more than 2,000 years. One may argue about whether or not Jesus is the son of God; that's fair. However, we know indeed that Jesus walked this earth and left only words of love and forgiveness. And since we are all children of our creator what does it matter whether we believe Jesus held a special place in the heart of our creator? Do we not know that the life of Jesus is certainly deserving of a celebration of his birth?
And so, despite, and not because of the church, each of us worship according to what is in our hearts. Until our creator touches our hearts no mortal has the power to alter what dwells so deeply in our own hearts.
We are further blessed by some of history's greatest prose poets. And Luke 1-20 offers man the most lovely chronicles of Christ's birth. As I sit in church year after year and listen to Luke's recounting of a joyful birth, of stealth, of discovery, of the concept of man's "re-birth", the elegance of those words envelop me like a warm blanket on a cold night. Read these words for yourself and note the beauty and elegance:
1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
Readers, these words, in 20 simple lines, reflect "real hope and change". Each year, as I read them, or hear them recited, my heart softens and my soul warms with the notion that man will ultimately seek "the good", and that Jesus Christ was the finest example of "the good". A man who deserves our praise, a man who offered a philosophy for treating well ourselves and others and is worthy of celebration in these holiest of days.