As the Christian world prepares to commemorate the coming of Jesus Christ, the long-promised Messiah who was to set his people free, we look on the commercialisation of Christmas with decidedly mixed feelings.
On one hand, reducing the incredible events which took place just over 2,000 years ago to an excuse for parties and drinking, or even an exchange of gifts with loved ones, has undoubtedly led to a trivialisation of the extraordinary events we commemorate.
On the other, even at its most deformed, it is a recognition by the secular society that something beyond the material has entered our world, and that the spirit of peace and goodwill towards men – which the angels proclaimed on that first Christmas Day – should prevail, even as we recall the terrible events in the Middle East, Ukraine, North Korea and parts of Africa over the past twelve months.
Christians have the best of both worlds. We are able to participate in the festivities while seeing the deeper significance of the birth of Christ – not just for believers but for all people – in the promise that a fallen world can be renewed by men and women of good will who put into practice the almost impossibly difficult teachings of Jesus Christ, to see him in the weakest and most vulnerable human beings, to turn the other cheek, to love our enemies and pray for those who want to harm us, and his other teachings.
What makes this possible for Christians is that Jesus not only gave us moral precepts to follow, but founded the Church as the instrument by which his message could be transmitted through time to all cultures, civilisations and societies.
Despite the human weakness of its members, the Church is his chosen instrument for making his name known and loved throughout the world, and the instrument by which we can hope to live forever with him in eternal happiness. We must respect and nurture it, just as we revere, love and worship its founder, Jesus Christ.
-Peter Westmore is the Publisher of AD2000.