Letter from Thomas Caldwll

Merry Christmas, there I said it!

Christmas is a time when the non-believing world must confront Christ. It is also a time when the attack on the Christian faith is more intense than at any other time of year. Manger scenes are forbidden on public property and the greeting “Merry Christmas” is considered politically incorrect. Possibly, the real difficulty rests in the fact that when confronted with Christ, a decision has to be made: “I must change or He must go.” Many decide He must go.

Some years ago, at a children’s Christmas pageant, I pondered the question: What if it is all true? That would be the best news ever! It would mean not just eternal life, but eternal, abundant and meaningful life, now!

As I pondered the question, I was stunned by the significant and undeniable change in people, civilization, history and hope for the future as a result of Christmas, even in the non-believing world. The basis for western civilization, with its moral and legal framework, as well as its sense of compassion and responsibility, was established as a result of Jesus Christ’s coming.

Let me share my view of Christmas. God watched people trying to be good, trying to work their way to heaven by obeying religious laws. God also watched non-believers, gradually destroying themselves. So, in His grace, God broke into history not to judge or condemn, but to save and to provide an example.

Jesus continually turned history and experience upside down as He said:

Turn the other cheek when struck
Do good to those who hate you
Love your enemies
Pray for those who spitefully use you
Go the extra mile
Give people what they ask and more
Be merciful
Give freely of your time and treasure”

We all fail to live up to these teachings and God’s gift to us in Christ also took care of that. He willingly sacrificed himself to atone for our sins and shortcomings.

But it didn’t end there. Christ rose from the dead to show us that this life is just an interlude in eternity.

Christ brought us healing, forgiveness, a power of example, redemption, love, comfort, purpose, positive change, abundant life, salvation when we fail, and hope for the future, whatever this life has in store for us. One cannot buy a gift like that. It is only given through God’s grace and it is unmerited. But we must accept the gift of Christ into our lives and hearts. He will not force Himself on us.

Our Christmas choice is either to put retailers, media, burdens, loneliness, pressure, despair, failings, and fears in charge of Christmas, or go for the real gift. Our gift to this world is to help people make that choice, to be witnesses to the real gift of Christmas – Jesus Christ.

Thomas S. Caldwell, C.M.                                                                                                                                                                                           December, 2013