I was making fudge and listening to The Priests’ Christmas album, Noël, and I was filled with such contentment, despite the upheaval of the past few days. I’m not Catholic, but that trio of voices is so beautiful that I do find them spiritually compelling.
I find Christmas spiritually compelling, too. I am a lifelong Unitarian Universalist, which means that like other Unitarians before me (Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Paul Revere, Ralph Waldo Emerson, ee cummings, Nathaniel Hawthorne, etc.) I do not believe that Jesus was divine. I do not believe that he was any more or less a child of God than the rest of us. I do not believe that he died for my sins. I don’t even believe that he was born on December 25. I’m not sure he’s not an amalgamation of a number of spiritual leaders.
All of that is immaterial. Here’s what I love about the Christmas story and its pagan roots: I love the idea that, if something personified and sentient and omniscient existed, it could look down on us all, with all our faults and foibles, observing us in our best and worst moments, and see in us something worthy of salvation. In the end, despite acts of violence and political strife and individual pettiness, we deserve longer days, perhaps so we have more time to strive for something better. I have no idea what, if anything, comes after this life, but I like the idea that this Being would see in each of us something worth preserving for all eternity.
Whether Jesus was real or not, whether he died for our sins or not is, to me, immaterial. (I know it is utterly material for some of you, and that’s cool. This is just MHO.) Jesus is the personification of our belief in our ability and worthiness to be redeemed. We can be less than we wish we were, but in the darkest of times, we see the light within each other and ourselves, rise to love. That’s worth celebrating.