Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

With all the bickering and sometimes outright anger over whether or not it’s appropriate to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, I thought I’d cover both bases. Merry Christmas to you, and if you prefer, Happy Holidays!

I don’t know why people get so bent out of shape about this either way. Look, if I’m going to a birthday party for my nephew, I don’t wish my neighbor a happy birthday, unless I happen to know that it’s his birthday too. But if my neighbor wants to wish me a happy birthday on his wife’s birthday, I’m cool with that too. This is really not something to get upset about if we truly want to keep the spirit of Christmas in our hearts.

And speaking of birthdays, that is, after all, what Christmas is. You know that, right? It’s a birthday party, or at least it’s supposed to be. If you’re not celebrating it as such, than don’t be offended when people wish you a generic happy holiday.

So, the birthday boy, as you probably know, is Jesus of Nazareth, a man born a couple thousand years ago, give or take, in the Middle East. Whatever you believe (or don’t believe) about this man, the fact remains that Christmas is a celebration of his birth (though, we know, not his historical birthday).

Jesus was a man on a mission to save humanity. How you interpret that is up to you. For Christians, he was the Savior, which is a bit difficult to explain, so I’m not even going to try.

Over the many years I’ve paid attention to stories about the life of Jesus, I’ve come to believe a few very important things.

Jesus did not intend to start a new religion.

Now don’t misunderstand my point; a great religion grew as a result of his existence on this earth. But Jesus’ goal was more to reform the religion of his followers. They ended up creating a new religion that now has as much need for reform as the one it came from.

This is fine. This is human, and it’s not the main point of Jesus’ life, at least it’s not to me. Jesus said he did not come to abolish the law. We all need laws, or sets of beliefs to live by.

No matter what you believe about Jesus, you cannot deny he was not of this world.

By “not of this world,” I am not, at this moment, addressing whether or not his was God. I’m addressing the fact that he knew peace and happiness do not come from pursuing the things of this world: money, possessions, status, empty relationships, competition, revenge, etc.

Jesus knew that we are all worthy of love; that’s why his main message was love one another. Jesus knew we were created to love, and that most of us spend a lot of time doing anything but that. (And yes, loving ourselves is part of this.)

Jesus was divine.

Jesus was very well tapped into the “greater than us” part of whatever it is that caused us to exist in the first place. He was focused solely on divinity, and he wanted to bring all of us to that place with him. He promised that if we set our sights on entering the kingdom of heaven (the dwelling place of our divine nature), we would be set free from the perils of earthly life.

There are many people who, for whatever reason, do not know a lot about Jesus. If you focus on Jesus (not the religion, but the being), it gets harder to become wrapped up in the war over whose religion is best or “fuller” or whatever we need to believe to convince ourselves we’re on the right path.

You’re on the right path if you love.

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

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