Christmas has always been my favorite time of year. In some regard Easter has been more profound personally, as I got older and dealt with the challenges of life and the introspection and personal growth that resulted. But for its sheer joy and beauty of spirit nothing ranks with Christmas. And for me Christmas is all about the music; and as I grew up listening to traditional religious music that is the genre that resonates with me still.

Listening today to the broadcast of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College, Cambridge, I was struck by a line from one of the readings, Gen 22 where God says to Abraham, “in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.” At a time when we have just celebrated the life of Mandela, this stands out to me as the true message of Christmas.

Many people overlook the spiritual aspect of Christmas entirely. And many Christians are angered by the increasing accommodations to a diverse society that shows respect to others of a different faith by keeping our dominant faith out of the official public spaces.

I think both groups are missing the true point of Christmas. Christ’s life was a demonstration of the God’s love being available to all people. And obedience to God is obedience to the command to love one another. If we filter all our relationships through this prism it greatly changes the outcomes in our world.

And that is what the lives of Christ and icons such as Mandela show. Obedience to love blesses all people.

In acting selflessly and loving each other all are blessed including ourselves.