“Jesus is the reason for the season”, the float proclaimed. Well, OK, if you mean that Jesus is the word of God and all things were created by Him; and He created a round earth that has an elliptical orbit around its sun, resulting in a winter season. But if you mean that a fellow who all of the available evidence indicates was born in the late spring is the reason for a pagan ritual in mid-winter, then you don’t have much to stand on. Not that it matters. If a few crèches and jolly Santas and cheesy music can remind us to treat each other as if we are precious and sacred before God, the I’m all for it.
A more helpful observation is “Jesus is the reason for believing”. Christianity is about following Christ (go figure); and if we ignore His words and example, then there is no point to Christianity. If we support neglecting the poor, starting bloody wars and marginalizing some people for reasons outside of their control; then we are not following Jesus, don’t deserve the name Christian, and the world is well within their rights in not caring what we have to say.
During this season we celebrate the birth of a man that was born homeless and oppressed, an alien and a refugee, who stood throughout His life over and against the dominion system of the time and was executed by a corrupt civic and religious system for insurrection. He spoke sparingly about sexual morality, and always in another context or to make another point, but proclaimed good news to the poor and release for the captive.
The manger is relevant to society in that we can see the cross from there. As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, let us remember its context. God so loved the world that He emptied Himself of all His power and became a baby, at the mercy of others, helpless and poor, sleeping in barnyard feed container, fleeing for His life. It should move us to advocate for those in a similar position.