Why is Christmas still celebrated all over the world after 2000 years? Apart from the Christmas story, not much from 2000 years ago is still remembered. Perhaps you dismiss this simply as a naïve religious superstition slowly fading from the world over time. But it continues to influence the thinking and emotions of billions of people. Perhaps this is worth going into more deeply?
Ideas have enormous power to shape and sustain a narrative that changes the way we experience our life. For example, all of us are now powerfully shaped by the idea of progress which is only about 300 years old. What ideas are contained in the Christmas story? The innocence, vulnerability and humility of a child borne in poverty in a manger attracts angels, Kings and shepherds. This is not a story before Jesus’s birth. It is a new story. The old stories are about the privilege of high birth and favor from the gods. This is no such story.
O yes, stories of the miraculous birth of other ‘special’ beings were standard lore for centuries before the Christian birth but those stories did not survive the passage of time. And the qualities these other stories celebrated were not the qualities of innocence, vulnerability and humility.
Let’s suppose just for a minute that the story of the birth is not only true but also intentional. Something new is being inserted into the human psyche. The pageant, for that is what I think it is, celebrates a change in human thinking.
Could you think of the psyche of human beings, our interior life of mind and emotion, as a vast ocean? The changing notions of who we are as human beings are the tides on which we rise and fall. Not all the denizens of that ocean are kind. Strangely, some full of light yet they are not swept away. They continue to hold together despite the maelstrom of confusion humans live within.
In the human psyche are many creations, some of our making, some from unknown sources. Angels are one of those creations, as well as a star that hangs in the heavens above a manger. You may dismiss the notion that the world of the psyche has its own creatures not found in the physical realm but this is very limited thinking. The world of the psyche is larger, more varied and more powerful than the material world. History is the proof. And consider what you know about yourself. I cannot see what I have decided is not there and I cannot know, understand and experience what I have already rejected.
Consider that Christmas still has the power to reach into hearts and change us. Stories like this are a miracle. Their presence in our collective psyche is absolutely necessary. Do not let them pass without hearing them and wondering how they can be.