Jesus was a revolutionist. I guess that word is loaded. I usually think about people like Che Guevara when I hear it. It’s hard to see how the same word can apply to gentle Jesus, meek and mild. But it does. Because Jesus started a dramatic and wide-reaching change. The world is a better place because of him. Sure, there have been horrendous things done by people who thought they were working on his behalf. But I bet they would have done those horrendous things anyway. They’d have just found some other figure or religion to justify them.
For me, Christmas is still a time to celebrate Jesus. Because no matter what I think about who Jesus “really was,” he’ll always be the first one who showed me how someone can love their enemies and stop grasping the fleeting wealth and vapoury things of the world. He’ll always be the first one who showed me that real love is bigger and scarier than I could have imagined. He lived the path of love so wonderfully that it killed him. And the miracle of it was that he made it all seem worth it.
So I still celebrate Jesus, in my own little way. I still keep Christ in Christmas. Not by shouting his name or correcting people when they say Happy Holidays. I do it by being thankful that he walked the earth and shared his ideas. I do it by taking his ideas as my own and doing my part toward bringing the Kingdom of Heaven (as I understand it) to earth. And when I do that, Christmas isn’t a burden. Because it’s not about gifts and shopping. It’s a loud and boisterous reminder of a gentle and subversive teacher who wanted to turn the world upside-down with love.