I am German and the German word for Christmas is “Weihnachten”. “Nacht” simply means “night”. Nothing too special here. It is in the first part of the word “weihen” where all the meaning is hidden. This word means “to dedicate”, “to bless”, “to anoint” and “to consecrate”. Yes, all those big words in one little verb. “Weihnachten” is a night of blessing.
Jesus was born and given to mankind as the son of God and son of Man at the same time. A blessing was his life and certainly his death, too. The cross is already right there in the manger next to the sleeping baby. Maybe it becomes especially clear in this image that the cross is not only a symbol of torture and death but first and foremost a symbol of love. “Weihnachten” is a night of anointment and consecration. Our God was born into this world, a new Adam who takes the sin the first one committed, the death the first one had to suffer and annihilates them. Jesus was certainly a blessing but wasn’t it the whole world that was anointed and consecrated so that he could be born to be one of us? A holy night where even the stars acknowledged the birth of the boy who would one day be the Christ. With the birth of this little baby the whole world and yes, you and I, too, were made holy, made worthy, showered with love.
So what do we do with that? We are thankful, yes. And we certainly celebrate. But can that be enough? Even if we take the expensive presents and the big meals away and focus only on the baby in the manger, can that be enough? Is Christmas a once-in-a-year-event? How could it be? How could it be something rare and something special if in that one day two millennia ago all of mankind was blessed and the whole world consecrated and made holy? A blessing and a consecration don’t go away when the sun comes up. They have been with us ever since that day. We’ve been consecrated, we’ve been blessed. We’ve been made new. New Adams and new Eves in a new Garden of Eden. Neither we nor our world is perfect. But with the precious present of his beloved son God showed us very clearly that that is okay. He loves us anyway. We are a new people. All of us God’s children. All of us holy, all of us anointed by the weak and vulnerable baby in the manger. How strong that makes us, how invincible. And how responsible for this holy world and each of those blessed siblings we have in it. That is the true spirit of Christmas. May that spirit remain with us through the next 365 days.