Christmas is here again! Indeed, Christmas last year only feels like yesterday – the smiles, the food, the celebrations – by Christians and non-Christians alike. Christmas is an event that brings people together and has taken on pluralistic connotations such that its meaning now goes beyond parochial Christian specific interpretations.
Christmas, and what it represents – ‘the coming of the kingdom’ (Mark 1:15) – is theologically symbolic of human aspirations toward goodness, freedom and spiritual connectedness. Its significance and true meaning therefore is necessarily ‘religiously’ pluralistic in nature as it points to an ethic and value that is recognised as being endemic in all people, regardless of belief systems and theological predispositions.
Thinking of Christmas in this way is not entirely new. Karl Rahner, Richard Swinburne, and Walter Kasper specifically, all known contemporary philosophical theologians thought that the man, Jesus, also known as ‘the Christ’, is himself, an ‘event’ to be understood: his theological significance is the introduction of an aspirational new world order recognisable by all people. After all, the word ‘Christmas’ itself, derived from the Latin ‘Cristes’ for ‘Christ’ and ‘Missa’ for ‘Mass’ or ‘Eucharist’, literally means ‘to show forth the Christ’ – and suggests a coming together of world-peoples despite apparent differences, all of which literally dissipates and dissolves into nothingness, as we gaze at ‘the Christ’ and his universal symbolism.
I am looking forward to spending time with my family and friends, and importantly, tucking into the array of hearty meals that is typical of the Christmas festivities. This is what Christmas is about afterall! But as I look forward to doing so, I cannot help but appreciate and recognise how Christmas has been embraced all over the world; by varied peoples, cultures, governments, societies, political systems, etc – a true symbolism of the strong thread of unity we share despite apparent differences.
A very Merry Christmas to you!!
Jude-Martin is Director of Diversity is…a consultancy focused on providing a fresh and innovative approach to diversity through the provision of HR services covering Strategy, Assessment, and Development for ensuring effective people management in the 21st century global business context.