Christmastime has always been a bit of a confusing holiday for me, since it seems we have tried to stuff so many things into one holiday. If you think about it, Christmas is truly a mess of a holiday—a conglomerate of so many loosely related beliefs and traditions that somehow come together to form a rather strange holiday. We have gift giving, Santa Claus, Christmas feasts, Christmas trees, Christmas lights, holiday shopping, and dreadful Star Wars Holiday Specials.[1] Yes, Christmas has become a rather confusing holiday indeed. I suppose David Hume’s bundle theory more accurately describes Christmas than it does human consciousness.

With all that is confusing about Christmas, it seems to me that it can be rather easy to forget what the true Reason for the season is. Christmastime is the time of year in which we remember (or at least should remember) the coming of Jesus Christ into the world. it is a time for us to reflect on the Sacred Gift our Heavenly Father has given us. It should be no small thing to remember the coming of Christ into the world in order to save mankind. Of course, we should all be aware that Christ wasn’t really born on December 25th, and that He is no more important during Christmastime than He is during any other time of the year. But none of this should detract from the significance of what Christmas truly represents: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given…and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”[2] We celebrate Christmas to remember the coming of Christ into the world; the coming of the “Prince of Peace” into the world.

It is worth emphasizing the fact that Christ is referred to as “The Prince of Peace”, since this year Syrian Christians are preparing to celebrate Christmas in Aleppo for the first time since the Syrian civil war began. It is my hope that we could all reflect on the significance of what this moment represents. Whatever you might think of the sociopolitical situation in Syria, it is an immensely significant gesture that a people so ravaged by war should have such a desire to celebrate Christmas so shortly after the battle for Aleppo has ended. Looking at photos of Aleppo before and after the conflict is truly heartbreaking. What was once beautiful and vibrant city with thousands of years of heritage and culture now seems to be an empty shell of what it once was. And yet these people, with their unbreakable spirits, have made it a priority to celebrate Christmas shortly after the fighting has ended. One would think that the first thing on these people’s minds would be to start rebuilding their broken city, but they have rather chosen to take a moment to celebrate the one holiday centered on the birth of Jesus Christ.

Additionally, the wonderful country of Colombia—a country in which I have personally lived—is able to enjoy its first Christmas in peace after decades of war with the FARC. Even while the war was still going on, the Colombian people loved Christmas more than any other people I know of. I have seen people in the poorest of households put up the most intricate and beautiful Christmas decorations around their houses during the Christmas season. Christmas is such a big deal to the Colombian people that it is not enough to have only one day of holiday to celebrate Christmas; they also celebrate various holidays in preparation for Christmas Day.[3]

To me, this is an example of one of the many ways in which Christ works in our lives. In the midst of all that has happened in our lives; after we have been left empty from the struggles and toils of this world, Christ comes in and brings peace to our souls. There is no tragedy so great, nor trial so terrible, that Christ cannot come into our hearts and bring peace to our lives if we let Him. No matter how empty we feel; no matter how much suffering we have endured, Christ can heal us. In a world that can at times be full of chaos and confusion, Christ is the Prince of inner peace.

I could go on about how the significance of Christmas goes beyond the significance of any world events that could be going on right now, but I feel it is sufficient to note that Christmas has centuries of stories and traditions behind it in which peace is brought into the lives of those who suffer. By that same token, Christ brings peace to our lives no matter what we might be going through, and will help us to heal in the aftermath of the most devastating of tragedies.

Of course, there are many who will disagree with me on the transcendental significance of Christ. And as a philosophy student, I have to admit that what I am saying here does not adhere to the scruples of logical argumentation. But I am not attempting to do so, since I do not find myself able to do so. I have written before on the struggle of living the life of philosophy and the life of faith, and part of that struggle is that philosophy doesn’t do much to help me live life the life of faith. When I think about Christ and His sacrifice for the human race, I cannot find a way of philosophizing about it. On the contrary, I often feel that I should not even try to philosophize about it. The interesting thing about Christ’s Sacrifice on our behalf is that one cannot even hope to build a philosophical system of analysis around it. It is not something that can be categorized or quantified; we cannot draw lines or establish parameters in order to define it. The Atonement cannot be known in the same way that one might know the definition of a word. We come to know the Atonement in ways unlike anything else.

We see, for example, that throughout Christ’s mortal ministry He constantly invited His disciples to follow Him. But when He brought His most faithful disciples with Him to Gethsemane, He merely told them to watch. When it comes to understanding Christ’s Sacrifice on our behalf, I suppose that at best all we can do is to metaphorically “watch” with Him. Perhaps we will never be able to know what the Savior Himself knows about the Atonement, and that is perhaps why we must constantly seek to learn more about it. And, unfortunately for me, I do not find myself able to learn of Christ or His Atonement by philosophizing about either of them. There is no reason that I could give, no explanation that I could articulate that would sufficiently explain why it is that I believe in Jesus Christ, and it is precisely for this reason that view apologetics with contempt. I suppose that Christ’s Atonement is something that we feel more than it is something we know, and thus it is not something we can learn about in the same way that we learn about most other things.

And how would it be, then, that we learn of the Savior and His Atonement? I can only suppose that love must necessarily precede anything else we do in this process. Christ came to this earth and effected the Atonement out of profound love for Heavenly Father and for all mankind. If, therefore, we wish to learn of Him, then I suppose that the only way in which we can do so is by doing all that we do out of love for God and for our neighbor. We must serve others in a Christ-like manner. We will have to learn of other people’s struggles and help these people accordingly. As we do so, we will begin to feel and learn of Christ and His Atonement. We will begin to feel of His love for all.

This is not to say that I myself have been particularly good at doing this. On the contrary, this is something that I am slowly learning. What I wish to demonstrate in saying all of this is that I cannot provide a logically and/or philosophically rigorous argument for why I believe in Christ. I cannot find a way to base my faith in logical reasoning. What I have learned about God and Jesus Christ in all my study of philosophy is that there must necessarily be a Savior of the world. In all that I have learned and in all that I have experienced firsthand, I cannot find a reason to believe that this fallen world could possibly exist unless there were a Savior provided. Having had the experiences I have had, and having learned the things I have learned, I cannot presently believe otherwise.

This is why I am writing about the significance of Christmas. What might seem like a rather strange holiday based on a wholly irrational belief is actually a very important holiday with a very profound meaning. And thus, I find myself writing this piece, to share a little bit about the significance of Christmas. Christ truly is the Reason for this season. He has changed so many lives throughout the world, and He will continue to do so inasmuch as people are willing to let Him. He can bring peace to the most desolate places on earth, and to the most devastated of hearts. He is our Savior. He came to this earth to redeem us. He is the Father’s greatest Gift to us, and thus we should do all that we can do during the Christmas season to remember that truth, and to learn of Him.

[1] I figured making a reference to this abomination of television programming was obligatory. The fact that this movie exists demonstrates the strangeness of the Christmas holiday. What’s more is that this movie is so bad, that it most certainly belongs in a galaxy far, far away.

[2] Isaiah 9:6

[3]There is, for example, the Alborata Navideña to celebrate the beginning of the Christmas season, the Noche de las Velitas, Las Novenas, and so on.

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