Well, it's about that time again. Thanksgiving is past, the FM radio stations are playing Charlie Brown Christmas music, and you are seriously considering going to the Bahamas for about six weeks, until "the season" is history.
Okay, I made up that bit about the Bahamas. For a lot of people, "the season" is actually something they look forward to? My guess on that score is that such folks likely have some active link to short people.
Christmas is much moreso a "kid" holiday than most others, and if you have links to little people, then the feast (as NASA would say) " is a go". If, on the other hand, you have no kids; and your nieces and nephews are themselves parents, then the holy-day takes on an altogether more "sinister" aura. Well, sinister is likely a strongish term, dreary maybe?
I say dreary in that (to me at least) the concept of "cheer" is ordinarily the result of something, not the cause. The emotional strong-arming effort to have you join-in, so to likewise spread "cheer"; appears to be founded upon the premise that if enough of us do so, then peace and order (or happiness?) will somehow or another result. The premise that feeling good generates good, can work to a degree, but such normally requires other persons. It is not the sort of thing you would busy yourself with, if stranded alone. So then, as practiced; Christmas is a celebration of ongoing "successful" marriage, and for that, you need girls.
Not wanting to overly offend the fairer sex in this diatribe, there is a nostalgia related to objects built of wax; and tiny ornamental fixtures, which the ladies appear to find interesting. Most guys are not precisely on that page. The day-holy has some sort of link with the DeBeers consortium? Diamonds are actively marketed, although I can't say why a poverty stricken couple giving birth in a barn, to their firstborn; has any natural connections to an artificially controlled demand for clear and hard rocks. But, my point is, the chivalrous, the "women and children first" ethic, is basic to the day as observed; and who can argue with that?
Positionally then, I am in a statistically improbable "place", with a view to 25 December. I like small children well enough, and observe that the "romantic" aspects of the day, have strong internal impetus for the many, but basically, am not much interested in acquiring either of the assets involved.
Which, in a roundabout fashion brings us to my first point of discussion. I hear lots of people decry the "materialistic" acquisitiveness (it used to be called "greed and envy" I think) so prominent in our era. There is a sort of "product status" which is clearly present. It is not good enough to give a $60 wristwatch, they "need" a $400 one. Designer names on shirts speak of a social pecking order, an "upness" to be had, and a lot of people resent the heck out of the "class" distinctions that are thus being made. Product stuff is sold with words like "exclusive". Uh, who exactly is excluded? Well, the people who either can't afford, or actively reject the "offering" I would guess?
So, we get this weird sort of "not-wanting", an inversion of the generalized; because to want (the exclusive) is to say that you are so shallow that you are seriously considering yourself "superior" (to un-named persons?) by the mere owning of the "trinket of the week"? And who wants that kind of shallowness anyhow?
This type of consideration tends to blowback, and in the (neo) desire for a simple and unaffected holiday, one just oozing with humility, and such; kinda boomerangs? But, this boomerang effect, this disdain for shallowness per se, next becomes the chic, the new "must have" commodity? It's kinda like brain gymnastics for the emotionally bizarre? It is depressing to watch others caught in this loop, and far worse to realize that I am not immune!
Christmas becomes in this matrix, an informal police effort to guarantee "good intentions" in even the harshest and most hardened souls. It functions as a war in time, against the ravages of time. It is a retreat-from, the constant beating-down of life. It is an artificial hub-bub, featuring tremendous busy-ness; which drowns out (temporily) the actual tensions of the rat-race.
As such, the way I see things, if a Nintendo or a Rolex is what might temporarily assist a person from growing ever more cynical about, and leery of humankind, then maybe they should have one?
Be that as it may, it just isn't too important whether a "perfect Christmas" is produced or not. The way I view things, Christmas is a lot more like Jonah-dude in the Bible, than some sort of yearly delusional elevation of our opinion of humankind.
Jonah might not seem (at first) to be a very good role model for "our youth", and any links made back to the Nativity, could well appear slender indeed! I won't bore you with a sermon on the guy. If you would like to bored that way, you will have just to go to church yourself I suppose.
The guys from Ninevah got thrown out of the Hells Angels for being "antisocial". The Nazis wouldn't have them, because they were "insensitive". But the mind bending brutality of these goons certainly did make other city-states think twice before messing with them. They were awful!
The Almighty tells Jonah to go down there and announce that their "inner child" was crying out for relationship! He was being sent to build their self-esteem, which would naturally cause them to embrace compassion. . .
No wait; wrong theology! He was told to go warn them that The True King was going to turn them into hammered dogmeat, pronto! Jonah-dude did the reasonable thing, and said "You've got the wrong Hebrew! I am outta here." And it's not like Jonah was all appalled at the notion of these psychos getting whacked, in fact, he was kinda looking forward to it. And if we buy the idea that he would have probably gotten skinned-alive by these murdering pukes (which they considered "good fun") for his troubles, it makes tons of sense for him to go the other wày. If we can just remove the verbal warning, then it becomes a sure thing! There is no chance of them escaping Judgement, if he keeps quiet, and so he kept his mouth shut and split. How hard was that to figure out anyway?
If, in the modern world, The King informed you likewise to march into the ISIS headquarters and announce terms (acceptable to Him) for uncondional surrender, and you knew that if you refused, the hammer would indeed fall, so to take them all out in an unannounced and violent fashion, where is the motive to go?
You see? The old testament does not exist in order for us to pretend at some "spiritual superiority" to our elders in the faith. Usually, the story of Jonah-dude is told as a kind of cautionary tale, and kiddos, don't let this happen to you, always obey God; as the "moral of the story".
Our hope is not built upon the schmaltzy premise, that we the "latter and evolved" have mastered a prissy and knuckleheaded optimism about human nature in the abstract, which the ancients were ignorant of. Our hope is not that "caring" formats as national foreign policy, rightly grasped. A "don't let this happen to you" kind of spiritual superiority complex is retrograde ballast which has to be jettisoned, prior to launch.
The story of Jonah is preaching (in part) Christmas! It is not the full-tilt-bozo treatment of St. Luke, but it is "there' for all the world to see; nonetheless.
When the self-esteem gurus of Messiahs' time demanded a sign of Him, He said; "No dice, unless you are thinking about the sign of Jonah." That same sign goes mostly unread to this very day.
The content is basically; "Come out with your hands up!". The context is that; The Judge of all has found you evil, and will no longer abide you wasting His air. The running of Jonah is human wisdom at its best, saying; "I am getting out of the way, let the hammer fall!". But that, that wisdom of ours is not, and never has been enough.
The deliverance from the fish (i.e., the rising again from the dead); points at a new thing in earth. And here, Jonah, like David, like Sampson, like Moses, like Abraham (like us!) is just not up to the task of fully carrying out the work of the anointing, and he, like the Master; is (post death) freed to participate!
The background never shifted. That great and terrible day surely coming remains as the context. But, Jonah unaided; is not "empowered to speak" by that new thing in earth (resurrection power to be had), prior to getting swallowed by "death-fish". His emergence from the maw of death escapade is prefiguring the genuine article Christ, The LORD! The firstborn from the dead, is like-Jonah; but moreso, so to speak. The True-Jonahs' adventure is declaring in bold-face that new thing in earth, which was hinted at, in the pre-figure. Here, the Man-singular has paid the Ninevite debt! Now, reason declares that there is a meaningful and actual purpose for us to come out with hands up! He means us good.
Previously, God "overlooked" the high treason of Adams' seed, but now a new thing is breaking forth. Whispered by the fish, the actual death of the new Head of the race is the sign awaited. Hope lives!
Indeed He do! Christmas is a high holy feast, a remembrance, a celebration of His current Presence, and a firm confidence that all ends beautifully well, not because of some moronic "optimism", but because Mr. Almighty Himself has come to meddle in our affairs!
Jonah-dude was pretty bummed out when the demolition show was canceled. I have always thought that he must have had a fine sense of humor.
"Why did you drag me all the way out here to watch You NOT destroy these animals? I could have stayed home, and enjoyed myself, if You intended to let these nut jobs off the hook in any case!". It is humor we see, and of all that annual "cheer and tidings" jazz, this is the real deal, of which ours is but the faint shadow.
The difference between Jesus and Jonah is that the True Jonah, the True David fully completes the trip without giving the Father any lip, whatsoever. Now, that is amazing! But the part of the sign of Jonah which we keep, is that he did stand-up, he did finish the task, and it was not out of any "innate compasssion" on his part. He had no alternative, AND was empowered to speak, it is both/and, not either/or.
It is the language of freedom, which Paul so loves. He is freed to be compelled! In that slavery is liberty, and in that speaking of the True Jonah, hope descends to the depths, even so low as me!
Messiah is robbing the enemy blind! He is turning the worst of the worst, the Hells Angels, the Muslims and Nazis (even "acquisitive" Americans!), men from every "tribe" are being compelled to live in that very same deliverance Jonah first experienced. And oh, what a difference the turning makes! It is what Christmas is, the original gift . . . life!
Look back and remember well. Look about you and "see the invisible hand" faithfully guiding back to sanity and self-control. Look ahead, to that wildly glad embrace of the True Dad, surely to come!
Dec 25 is Him saying; "I Personally guarantee it!".
Have a Merry Christmas indeed, 2015!