Monday, December 26, 2011

Food for Thought: Christmas Edition

Does "the Christ" really need to be in "Christmas"?

Maybe that sounds like an absolutely idiotic question coming from a Christian person, but bear with me for a moment. This is, unfortunately, not a fully-fleshed out essay, just an idea/question I'm sitting/wrestling with for the moment.

Two of my absolute all-time favorite Christmas stories are It's a Wonderful Life and, of course, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

Last night, for whatever reason, it suddenly occurred to me that I could not recall a single mention of "Jesus" in either story. So...off I went to the interwebs.

And...it's true. The text of A Christmas Carol does not mention Jesus even once; there is a single mention of Jesus at the very beginning of It's a Wonderful Life, in a voice-over prayer for George Bailey by Mr Martini.

Does this strike you as strange? It seemed astonishing to me. And then I went and checked Miracle on 34th Street and White Christmas: no mention.

So for an entire day I've been kind of preoccupied with this. Can these be considered "Christian" stories, however much they have to do with our modern conception of "Christmas," if they don't directly deal with the person of Jesus Christ?

Moments ago I had an answer/idea: well, none of the parables mention Jesus, either. Jesus told many, many stories to illustrate the nature of God and God's kingdom, and he never mentioned himself by name in these stories and, in some of them, I believe, he doesn't even appear, at least not as a character in the drama.

So, then, despite the lack of explicit reference to Jesus, these are, nonetheless, Christian stories, because they definitely are parables. And now I feel better. Maybe I will have more to say later.

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