The Paradox of Christmas

One shopping days until Christmas!

That announcement greeted me first thing this morning, and I was struck by the amazing paradox embedded in a common seasonal countdown. Hurry up and shop for the birth of God’s Son!—sounds a bit silly if you think about it.

Christmas teems with contradiction. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; most of life requires us to balance conflicting perceptions and priorities. The key is not to force a black-and-white interpretation onto a shades-of-gray world, because that simply denies reality. But awareness helps us to keep priorities in order.


Commercial and spiritual We all know about Black Friday, the beginning of the season retailers depend upon for an entire year’s success. While we rightly lament the over-commercialization of Christmas, most of us enjoy giving and receiving gifts. Any parent will happily recount memories of the wonder of Christmas morning and small children.

We simply need to remember that it’s not ALL about buying and getting and stuff. As long as our Christmas season centers on Advent first, we can keep the craziness in perspective and enjoy without being consumed.

Cultural and eternal We all have Christmas traditions. For us it’s the farm, family, football, and food. It’s a time to play games, do puzzles, and catch up with people we see too infrequently.

For me, none of that has much to do with Christmas. The holiday simply provides a reason to do things we ought to do anyway. Jesus wasn’t born so I’d slow down and spend time with relatives, but I suspect that He’d endorse the idea. Cultural practices are a problem only when they replace our focus on the star.

Single day and every day Christmas isn’t a day on the calendar. Christmas is a reminder of the Good News, glad tidings of great joy for all of us. That didn’t happen on December 25, 0000.

I love the way The Message paraphrases the familiar words of John 1:14:
“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”

Jesus didn’t just drop by to offer a few words of encouragement before heading back to a more exclusive development. He moved into the neighborhood—mine and yours—and He still lives there.

How about you? What’s a Christmas paradox that impacts you?

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. [Luke 2:8-11]

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Copyright 2009 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:
Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance
. Visit his web site

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