It’s Christmas Eve and even though most of us are still unsure about what Santa is going to bring us, or what colour of socks we will get this year, one traditional Christmas event has already been decided upon.
The now ‘formerly’ x factor, Simon Cowell, everything that is wrong with music’ sponsered Christmas number 1.
Last Sunday, much to the delight and excitement of millions of people, for the first time since 2002, a single from an x factor contestant hasn’t reached the coveted Christmas number 1 spot. The Christmas number 1 used to be something everyone, even if you didn’t normally care about the charts, looked excitedly to. But for a few years now, it’s beeen completely monopolised by the x factor.
Not this year. No Sir. An amazing facebook campaign has finally ended that with Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Killing In The Name’ as the number 1 at Christmas.
It’s amazing. Never in a million years did I think this track would ever get close to being a number 1, never mind at Christmas. But it has. And that’s a good thing.
Because despite what anyone says ‘Killing in the Name’ is the best Christmas song ever. Sorry Slade fans, sorry Chris Rea, you can drive on home, sorry Joe, sorry even the Pogues (as much as it pains me) but none of you have even hit anywhere near the mark on the Christmas message as much as Rage Against the Machine have.
I’m sure they never intended it to be a Christmas song, but the meaning and emotion behind it reveals the very heart of the Christmas message.
Rage Against the Machine have saved Christmas. Jesus will be happy.
How so, you may ask. Join me on a journey through time and space (well time anyway).
When Jesus was born, he was born in a town in Israel called Bethleham. His parents Joseph and Mary had travelled there to take part in a census that the Roman Empire required everyone to take part in, to help with military stuff and taxes. So Joseph was required to return to his hometown and so his wife and son accompanied him.
When they arrived there, they were visited by some wise men (probaby astrologers) who came to pay their respect to the new King of the Jews i.e. Jesus. But when they got there they asked the possibly first ever pantomime villian, King Herod (booo sssss) where he was (not behind him as it turns out). Herod liked having power and he used it to great effect to rule over his people. Sooo, obviously he wasn’t too keen on their being another King of the Jews, especially a baby. So he pretended he wanted to worship the baby, and asked the wise men to return to him when they found him. Ooh sneaky.
Of course God had other ideas, as he usually does. And it was a good job he did because Herod, as I’m sure you’ve guessed already didn’t want to goo and ga at Jesus, so much as, well brutally murder him.
So the wise men took a swift detour to Egypt, as did Joseph and Mary. And this is where I think the message of Christmas is often overlooked.
Joseph and Mary decided that it wasn’t a good idea to hang around. They decided that following the leader of the country was wrong. I’m not even sure they stuck around for the census. They decided that the Roman Empire and KIng Herod weren’t all they cracked up to be. They decided that there had to be a different way. A better way.
And if Jesus coming to Earth and Killing in the Name shows us nothing else, it is that there is a better way, an alternative way of thinking, of acting, of treating each other.
We’re presented with so many things at Christmas, that this message has been lost somewhere. The message that Jesus came to allow us to be free, to buck the trend. To change our perception of how to love each other. The Christmas story tells us there are two ways of living. The Herod Christmas and the Jesus Christmas.
The Herod Christmas tells us that its all about OUR power and needs. The Jesus Christmas tells us its all about OTHERS and people who need help.
Herod Christmas says we need to spend massive amounts of money to show we love people. Jesus Christmas tells us we can give money to people who have nothing, so they can eat on Christmas Day and every other day.
Herod Christmas tells us that those in power are always right. Jesus Christmas tells us that power comes in how we treat others well, not in showing our dominance.
Herod Christmas says that strength is in power over people. Jesus Christmas says that strength is in loving people.
And this is the message of Christmas that Rage Against the Machine are expressing, even if they know it or not.
“And now you do what they told ya, now you’re under control”.
Joseph and Mary did not do what they were told and so they became free. They realised the truth, that much of what society or our Governments, or our Religious estbalishments tell us, is wrong. They realised that there was injustice going on in the world and it doesn’t have to be like that.
They realised there is a better way. A way that gives everyone life, not just those who want control.
They realised that life is about looking to Jesus and realising that Christmas should be about loving others in ways that matter, not by making ourselves sick with food, or entertaining ourselves with stuff we get bored with quickly.
But by meeting with a friend who needs to talk to someone. To go and give food and a blanket to someone who will be sitting in the snow on Christmas Day. To sacrifice a present this year and give money to a family who need it to pay the bills.
Jesus came so we can change how we live. Yeah he came to save us from our crap. But he came for so much more. To show us a way of loving others rather than ourselves.
A way that requires us to sometimes say
We won’t do what you tell us