The Truest Thing in the World
by Harry Reasoner
The basis for this tremendous burst of buying things and gift buying and parties and near hysteria is a quiet event that Christians believe actually happened a long time ago. You can say that in all societies there has always been a midwinter festival and that many of the trappings of our Christmas are almost violently pagan. But you come back to the central fact of the day and the quietness of Christmas morning, the birth of God on earth.
It leaves you only three ways of accepting Christmas. One is cynically, as a time to make money and endorse the making of it. One is graciously, that's the appropriate attitude for non Christians who wish their fellow citizens all the joys to which their beliefs entitle them. And the third, of course, is reverently.
If this is the anniversary of the appearance of the Lord in the universe in the form of a helpless babe, it is a very important day. It is a startling idea, of course. The whole story that a virgin was selected by God to bear his son as a way of showing his love and concern for man. It's my guess that in spite of all the lip service given to it, it's not an idea that has been popular with theologians. It is somewhat an illogical idea and theologians like logic almost as much as they like God. It's so revolutionary a thought that it probably could only come from a God that is beyond logic and beyond theology. It is a magnificent appeal. Almost nobody has seen God and almost nobody has any real idea what he is like, and the truth is that among men the idea of seeing God suddenly and standing in a very bright light is not necessarily a completely comforting or appealing idea.
But everyone has seen babies and almost everyone likes them. If God wanted to be loved as well as feared, He moved correctly, for a baby growing up learns all about people. And if God wanted to be intimately a part of man, He moved correctly, for the experience of birth and family-hood is the most intimate and precious experience that any of us will ever have.
So it comes beyond logic. It is either a falsehood or it is the truest thing in the world. It is the story of the great innocence of God the baby. God in the power of man has such a dramatic shock toward the heart that if it is not true to Christians, then nothing is true.
So if a person is touched only once a year, the touching is still worth it. And maybe on some given Christmas some final quiet morning, that touch will take. The touch of God coming into this world as a vulnerable baby.