God’s Ultimate Purpose
````For many faith traditions, this is a special time of year. There are lots of holidays this time of year. Which is why I do my best to say, “Happy Holidays” to people. There are more holidays than just Christmas being celebrated this time of year. If, however, I know that the person I’m speaking to is Christian (which is my faith tradition, too), I say, “Merry Christmas.”
It is a common misconception, I think, that people who say, “Happy Holidays” are against Christmas or Christianity. Some people (like me) are Christian, but we don’t want to make an assumption that the person we’re seeking with is Christian, too. We don’t want to leave out any important holidays that others might be celebrating.
````Another common misconception is what Christmas means. This point is important to me as a Christian. Many of the carols and biblical passages we hear this time of year talk about Jesus as savior. Too often, these songs and passages reinforce the idea that Jesus exists only to save us from our sins. The theology these songs and passages support say almost nothing about life before death, only life after death.
````Too many Christians think that faith is about some day rather than today. English theologian N.T. Wright correctly points out that Jesus spent his life “…not saving souls for a disembodied eternity but rescuing people from the corruption and decay of the world presently is so they could enjoy, already in the present, the renewal of creation which is God’s ultimate purpose—and so they could become colleagues and partners in that large project.”
````I believe God’s ultimate purpose is to heal, liberate, and transform all of creation. Humankind is certainly part of creation, but we’re not the only part. And I don’t believe that God intends for us to wait until we die to experience these things, either. To me, Christmas means that good things have started to happen in real time and real space. The renewal of creation has begun. Reconciliation is happening. Justice is happening. Things are being made right.
````Mary, the mother of Jesus, summed up what it means: “[God] has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; [God] has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.”
````To me, Christmas means that a new creation has begun, and that it offers healing, liberation, transformation, and justice for everyone and everything, whether we say, “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.”
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