What really matters…

Rudyard Harrison,
Somerset West

Don’t throw the baby out with the manger…

We recently celebrated one of the most significant festivals on the Christian calendar.

It is the much- embellished story of the birth of Jesus.

It is worth noting that in ancient times, the birth of famous people was often accompanied by stories of unusual events.

If we choose to ignore the myths surrounding Jesus’ birth, does anything of substance remain?

Atheists claim that the whole event is an elaborate fabrication, while fundamentalists believe that the biblical account is inerrant.

These opposing views are simplistic, extreme and misleading.

When the legends are stripped away, we are left with the ordinary birth of an extraordinary person, Jesus of Nazareth.

A radical Jewish rabbi who showed humankind how to live differently.

In his all too brief life, he succeeded in presenting a way of living characterised by justice and compassion.

His teaching and example by implication threatened the religious and political authorities of the day, who quickly decided to do away with him.

The myths are pretty and romantic. The reality is stark and deeply challenging.

Jesus’ message is not nullified, but affirmed by the teachings of other historical sages.

Sadly, in the most part, these teachings have not been put into practice.

What really matters about the birth of Jesus is the way of life he revealed to humankind.

The early Christians were known as the people of “the Way”.

The Sermon on the Mount contains the essential elements of a dynamic and meaningful way of living.

Rudyard Harrison is a retired Methodist minister, and counsellor at the Ruach Centre in Somerset West.