Merry Christmas, No Flavor Added

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By Jeanne Hathway


In the simple spirit of the first Christmas, I have one thought to offer: “The ox and the donkey understood more of the first Christmas than the high priests in Jerusalem. And it is the same today.” (Thomas Merton, American mystic)

I’m no high priest, but I am much further removed from the first Christmas than the ox and donkey. It’s bad enough I wasn’t there, but my own preoccupation with the world around me can cloud out the soft light emanating from that manger. As much as I harp on the commercialization of Christmas, I have found that even more often than that I feel the tendency to “commercialize” Christmas theology. In searching for the best explanation or most meaningful revelation about the true meaning of Christmas, I wind up with messages that more closely resemble the necklace Mr. Bean elaborately wraps in Love Actually than the bare kernel of truth I actually crave: a baby. A dirty, newborn baby.
And that is all I wish to share: a baby. Hold and worship Him. Love and nurture Him. The brilliant wisdom of the ox and donkey was not a revelation or complex theological concept; it is the simplicity of a baby. And duly, the ox and donkey cannot do much more than observe quietly. Yet that quiet observation trumps the intellectual designs of high priests.
And, in that spirit, I (and everyone at Defenders of Faith) would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and the sweetest of holidays. Naturally sweet. No flavor added.

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