Christmas Science.

Thinking Theory & Practice of Xmas

 Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all! Including those who do not believe in Christmas, including those who do not like me.

That is my gift to all of you, bare, no wrapping, no floral decoration, no ribbon, no box, no Scotch tape, no frame. No kidding.

I’m trying out a new theory and practice of Christmas. You know what? I think I just invented Christmas Science. Let X be the unknown Christ who gave us Christmas. By ‘Christmas Science,’ I don’t mean outright knowledge or verified knowledge or systematized knowledge; rather, I mean a field of study seeking to understand the civilized human phenomenon of gift-giving, resulting in human insights. In an uncivilized society, a gift given would be a human sacrifice to the gods.

I write Science, not Fiction.

Theory & Practice of Christmas

Yesterday, Christmas Eve, I had a flash of insight. I asked myself a very different kind of question, the kind of which I never asked myself before:

‘If Christmas is the theory, what is the practice?’

‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life’ (John 3:16 NRSV). This is the biggest gift, the best gift of all to all, right?

God gave us a gift one Christmas day. Now then, is the practice of Christmas the giving of gifts on Christmas Day? If you say it is not, then you may be denying God’s gift to mankind.

Alternatively is the practice of believing in Jesus as the Christ the spirit of Christmas?

I think that the giving of gifts as a proof that we believe in the Messiah is not practice enough, no matter how expensive or beautiful or touching or meaningful the gift.

Because the practice of Christmas is not in the giving of the gifts. Christmas is not a 1-day event, to be celebrated every time the 25th of December comes. Christmas is a 365-day concern, a 24/7 affair. Christ was born one day, but that was only the beginning; the Christian era did not end as it began.

So, where do we find the spirit of Christmas if not in the giving of gifts? That depends on the gift.

Theory & Practice of Love

I found the true spirit of Christmas in the New Testament. I found love. Love is the biggest gift, the best gift of all to all.

Love is the theory. Looking for the practice, I am back to the theory.

In 1 Corinthians 13, the Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians about love; here is that chapter, all of 272 words (NRSV):

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end.

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.

For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.

And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

What is love? In fact, 1 Corinthians 13 does not define love; it merely describes it: Love is patient, kind, not envious, not arrogant, not rude and so on and so forth. It is endless. Love is the greatest.

The Big Question is: How? How do we love? If love is the theory, what is the practice?

Christ of course has given us the First and Greatest Love Commandment: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind’ (Matthew 22: 37 NRSV). And the Second is like the First: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ (Matthew 22: 39 NRSV). Nonetheless, the question remains: ‘But how do we love?’

I found my answer in another epistle of Saint Paul, this one to Romans. Saint Paul’s Christian instructions on how to love, here is Romans 12, my favorite, all 386 words of it (NRSV):

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Dedicate all of yourself, every single day, to what is good, which is what God wants you to do. You have accepted the faith, but faith is not enough. Be Christians not only in words but also in works. Not only in theory but also in practice. Only in practice can you know what are good works, what are pleasing, what are perfect.

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.

Do not be proud; do not be vainglorious. Remember, we all are one in God, and as members of one body, we have different functions but we belong to each other; not one is more important than the other. A body without any of its members is the less; a body with all of its members is good, pleasing and perfect in the eyes of God.

We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

Even as we are one, each one of us must be and do the best we can. So, if you are a prophet, prophesy; if a teacher, teach; if an encourager, encourage; if a giver, give; if a leader, lead; if a cheerer, cheer.

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

Love always, love truly. Detach yourself from the bad and cling to the good. Love one another more and more. Do good ardently all the time. Be happy even as you hope; be patient even as you suffer; be constant even as you pray. Contribute to fill a need; be kind to strangers.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are.

Be good to those who do you bad, every one of them. Empathize: Be happy with those who are happy. Sympathize: Lament with those who lament. Do not quarrel with one another. Do not be proud; connect with the ignorant; relate with the poor; do not claim to know more than you do.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ No, ‘if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.’

Not eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth; rather, think of what is good to all. As much as possible, be at peace with everyone. Never avenge a wrong; let God take care of it. Rather, if your enemy is hungry, give him to eat; if your enemy is thirsty, give him to drink; because, in doing that, you and he will have peace.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Do not be defeated by evil; rather, defeat evil with good.

My theory of Christmas is that it is a gift of love. The true practice of Christmas is the practice of love.

I said at the beginning of this that I wish ‘Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!’ to those who like me and those who don’t.

The true meaning of Christmas is not the giving of gifts but the gift of giving, the giving of love. And giving love means always giving love; it means trying to be good always and ever. If we stop trying to be good, the world stops for us.

Christmas Science is the science of trying to love. Thanks for trying it on me. Please don’t stop trying!

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