Be of good cheer

FTLComm - Tisdale - Wednesday, December 25, 2002
Christmas isn't a season and it is far more than a holiday. Today marks the day of the year set aside to recognise an event which our culture holds in the highest regard.
The political and strategic location of the Roman state of Palestine was at a critical state about 2002 years ago with the people of the country less than cohesive and the Roman military government desperately attempting to keep some sort of peace as the flow of goods that fueled the commerce of the empire had to pass through this tiny patch of desert with its often fanatical leadership.
It was quite likely earlier in the year that Mary and her carpenter husband-to-be, Joseph, stopped over in Bethlehem, a rural city North East of Jerusalem and there a baby boy was born. The Europeans who accepted the religion that grew up around this child when he grew to a man, placed the commemoration of his birthday on this date.
As a remarkable young man, son of a carpenter with his roots in the fishing villages along the sea of Galilee, he distinguished himself and soon developed a huge following simply based on his speeches that declared that being nice to one another was the way things should be.
To understand why this was significant you must understand that Judaism is a religion based on a series of complex rules. We all know of the ten commandments found in the early part of the Christian Bible but also the basic beginning of the Jewish TORAH. In Genesis the fundamental background story of the Jewish people is set forth, in the second book the powerful dedication to the awareness of the creator in their Exodus from Egypt, then a history of the development of the culture and in Deuteronomy (the second giving of the law) which spells out in more detail the rules for being a good Jewish person. The subsequent books give examples of the law being interpreted. Essentialyl the Jewish faith is one of understanding and following the laws of their God.
Following God's laws is no small matter and to get through this the Jewish religion depends on a second book, the Talmud which is intended to help the faithful understand and see how these laws should be following in all the variations of things that can happen to a person in life.
This brings us back to the man called Jesus. He was considered to be an exceptional orator and the subjects of is speeches dealt with proper conduct. Attempting to catch him with a clever question he was asked what was the greatest of all commandments, to which he immediately identified the first one, to love the Lord, but then had added yet another commandment, to love your neighbour as yourself. That one simple statement changed the course of history and is why today is a holiday almost two thousand year's later.
Long after his death, which from our standpoint in time, looks pretty much like a political assassination, his followers realised the importance of this man's teachings and began the process of formalising the beliefs into a collection of religions. Clearly, the simplicity of the religion and the fact that it was firmly based in the established practices of Jewish religion meant that it was not a trivial spiritual cult.
If you are not caught up in the "faith" aspects of Christianity, the life of this man, what he said and what was written about him, is important, so important, that the essential spirit of the "religious" organised churches is shared by all people in the culture in which the Christian religions are practiced. Many feel that the organised churches are to be blamed for somehow blurring the really important elements of Christianity, because socially and economically, perhaps even politically, no other set of behavioural mores is better suited to the development of a truly advanced society.
So be you a practicing Christian, or a person living in a Christian society, Merry Christmas. Celebrate the birth of a child, son of a carpenter, a teacher, a preacher and to many a Messiah, but to all, an example of the highest order of civilised behaviour toward your fellow man.
From our family around our Christmas tree here in Tisdale, to your family around your Christmas tree where every you are, love your neighbour as yourself.

Timothy W. Shire



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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
Faster Than Light Communication
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