“They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds.”
-- Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus
I will frankly admit to a fascination with Apple products -- not the kind you slice, but the kind you swipe. This fascination began innocently enough when my daughters Katerina and Gabriella bought me an iPod for my birthday a few years ago. I was amazed to discover that I could fit my entire music collection into a device no larger nor heavier than a matchbook. Soon thereafter, I bought an iPhone, thereby rendering my iPod -- and in many ways my computer! -- obsolete. However, it was when my daughters once again turned to Apple for inspiration and gifted me with an iPad last year that my fascination was complete. I can pay bills, search online, read email, newspapers and books virtually anywhere (as long as there’s WiFi!) And, I know that I’ve barely scratched the surface of what my tablet can do. Indeed, you might say that my fascination has turned into addiction!
However, there is a danger that accompanies such a fascination -- a fascination I suspect you share with me. It is that in turning to technology for many of our answers, we turn to technology for all of them. Siri cannot speak to the struggle of good and evil. Google Earth cannot hover over the Kingdom of Heaven. Microsoft cannot make sense of man’s purpose and place. To where, then, can we turn? In what, then, can we believe? At this festive season of the year, my dear reader, it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for Christmas -- as my dearly departed Dickens might have written!
Christmas is about trees and tinsel, toasts and toys, a day for celebrating the treasures of home, hearth and the health of friends and loved ones we hold so dear to our hearts. Yet, it is about so much more. We can dismiss the Christmas story as a patchwork of fables, folklore and the figment of evangelistic imagination. Or, we can believe that on that first Christmas night Divinity humbled Himself to share in our humanity, even as He exalted us by granting us a share of His divinity. His message of peace on earth and good will towards men proclaimed by His angelic heralds on that first Christmas Day has gone forth from that time and place even to this time and place. That the message has gone largely unheeded and unheard does not detract from its power nor diminish its promise.
In bringing ourselves to believe in His message, we also bring ourselves to believe in Him. Such belief is never easy -- nor ever complete. Belief begins as an action of the will before it becomes the aspiration of the heart. There will be times when we believe fully and times when we don’t believe at all. Many will show that they share our belief; many more will shun us. At all times we should be mindful of the mandate He made to a doubting Thomas: “Persist not in your unbelief, but believe!” (John 20:19). Through His life He showed us how to live; through His death, He showed us how to love. It now falls to us who dare believe this message of life and love to spread it to a willful yet waiting world. If not us, then who? If not now, then when?
iBelieve! If only there were an app for that!
Barry Mooers is a retired Haverhill public school teacher who enjoys reading, writing, walking and gardening.