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Christmas, The Inclusive Holiday

It seems every year, around Christmas time, a debate begins between Christians and the rest of the World over whether Christmas symbols should be displayed and the traditional greeting "Merry Christmas" should be used as opposed to something more inclusive, like "Happy Holidays."  This debate reveals that both sides suffer a deep ignorance of the whole celebration.  All religions regard God as a distant, all-powerful being, whose presence and blessings we have to earn by certain religious practices.  This, predictably, places a barrier between those practicing a specific religion and all others.  Christmas celebrates just the inclusive God who loves us all so much and wants to be so close to us, He becomes human and lives with us.  

Thousands of years before Jesus was born, He was foretold in prophecy as the one through whom all nations and ethnic groups would be blessed.  Of all descriptions of gods in various cultures, this is the one true inclusive God, on a mission to be in loving relationship with each of us, regardless of our background or upbringing.  One of the names used to describe Him before His birth was Emmanuel (God With Us).  This isn't the distant God religion speaks of, but one so intimate with us, He let us change His diapers and train Him as a child.  In describing Jesus (the Christ) to Greeks, Paul said, "In Him we live and move and have our being."  There is no relationship more intimate than that...there is no place we can go outside of or distant from this loving matter what our beliefs.  

Just as Paul's statement revealed Christ's intimacy, it revealed His universality, because Paul was quoting Greek mythology about Zeus.  He was describing the universal God, the One apparent from nature.  It's no coincidence that all cultures, no matter how isolated, share stories of creation by a god and methods to connect with that god.  It's no coincidence that everyone, even an atheist, knows right from wrong.  The knowledge of morality and a relationship with the one true loving, intimate God is available to each human, even if he's never heard of Jesus.  Paul said he would be all things to all people so they could know God.  This is the God who said He doesn't want anyone to suffer eternity without Him.  No god could be more universal and inclusive than the One we celebrate at Christmas.  He wants to bless every person, not just the ones who follow religious rituals.

In fact, this God we celebrate at Christmas, made a way for all of us to spend all of eternity in His loving presence.  We don't have to practice a religion.  We don't have to live a perfect life (though trying couldn't hurt).  We don't have to donate to a cause, or swear off the joys of life.  In fact, this God has promised us unimaginable joys and blessings, peace and power over life's circumstances...forever.  What do we have to do to get all this?  Nothing!  We don't have to do anything so God will accept us.  All we have to do is accept Him.  Jesus is the inclusive God.

So, whether you claim to be a Christian or not, you can celebrate Christmas,  because this holiday is based on God's love for you.  Even if you don't believe in God right now, He believes in you and He loves you.  Other holidays are established to celebrate a specific culture or religion, but Christmas is a celebration of God's love for every person in the World.  So, when someone says, "Merry Christmas," know it's a prayer for you and a blessing to you.  There never was and never will be a more inclusive holiday.  Merry Christmas!

What do you think?

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