Samuel Lee's Christmas Message 2020


December is a reminder that the year is coming to an end, and a new season will soon commence. 2020 was a perplexing year, a year full of challenges of too many to be mentioned here, from racial unrest worldwide, the human rights crisis concerning the refugees' rampage condition at the borders of forth Europe or the USA. On top of all these, there was no single day I open news without hearing the word "Corona, " which means crown. A thorn crown on the head of wounded humanity. A "humanity" that took things for granted. A "humanity" that is now being challenged with the most fundamental aspects of human lives: do not hug, do not touch, do not visit your loved ones. On top of these, many of us go through uncertainties of losing our loved ones, jobs, and businesses. Many even lose their hope.


Even Christmas is being challenged by Corona-crisis. No more Christmas as usual: for decades, we commercialized a holy and religious concept into consumerism without knowing Christmas's true meaning. Christmas trees, stuffed turkeys, and worse than everything, the dilemma of buying presents for someone who basically has everything. Of course, I am generalizing, and I am aware that many choose not to fall into this commercialized system. They live a sober life, help the poor, the homeless, and the marginalized. However, I do believe that Christmas has become a business. One of the things that hurts me is the way we treat Christmas trees: for a couple of weeks, they are the jewel of every house, beautifully decorated, children love them, people danced around them, people sit under them for gifts. But just look at the streets in the first week of January. The trees are thrown away, forgotten; they become garbage, ready for recycling. Sometimes I think that we humans do not only treat Christmas trees in such a manner and but also treat each other in such a way.


for decades, we commercialized a holy and religious concept into consumerism

I really hope that Corona-crisis will challenge us this year to grasp the true meaning of Christmas, to return to what it represents. It's Christmas season, and a significant part of the world is celebrating the birth of Jesus, who once said that He is the Light of the world! Perhaps to an outsider, this sounds very arrogant! Jesus is claiming to be the Light of the world!? Light enables us to see things, and at the same time, light defeats darkness. When Jesus said: He is the Light of the world, He meant "see the world through His Light! The Light of love, the Light of God!".


The question we must ask ourselves as religious people, especially as Christians, is this: "do we see the world through the Light of love?" Do we recognize the goodness in other people outside our religions? The Light never discriminates, Light never says: "I only shine on Christians" or "I only shine on religious folks…" No!

Light never discriminates, Light never says: "I only shine on Christians"

I love religious festivals and traditions—but I am also critical! Do we really understand what our religious celebrations mean? Do we really understand what Christmas is about? To me, Christmas is only meaningful when I am willing to see the other in the Light of love! Christmas is about recognizing the unrecognizable, hearing the unvoiced whispers, healing the broken souls, embracing the unwanted, and sheltering the rejected ones. Because in them, I see Christ. For me, this is the real meaning of Christmas, the birth of Light! The Light that ignites humanity in love and compassion. Defeat darkness by being a light to a world that needs its warmth so desperately. Closing our eyes to injustice is against the message of Christmas. So, let us allow the Light of The Bright Morning Star shine through us. This is time to call ourselves and the world back to Christmas's core message that Jesus left us to carry out: the great commission and neighborly love. Be a light of Christmas wherever we are and whenever we can.


Wishing you a blessed Christmas and a happy new year


Samuel Lee

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© 2010-2019 by Samuel C. Lee

 

Samuel Lee (Ph.D.) is university lecturer, at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam - Faculty of Religion and Theology (FRT-VU), and director for Center for Theology of Migration, the educational program of Samen Kerk in Nederland at the FRT-VU. 

He is the founder of Foundation Academy of Amsterdam, offering higher education in liberal arts and humanities for migrants, refugees and persecuted minorities.

 

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