Don't Burn the Goat!
December 17, 2014 • By Ed Wrather
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” - Luke 2:8-14 NKJV.
Since 1966 in Gävle, Sweden, a huge straw Christmas goat 42½ feet tall (13 meters) weighing 3.6 tons has been erected in the town square every December. The Yule Goat is one of Scandinavia and Northern Europe’s oldest traditions. Sadly, vandals have burned down the straw goat at least 24 times before Christmas during the years since 1966. In 1977, the goat only lasted six hours before burning to the ground. In 2012, the goat only made it to December 12th when it was burned down. Last year, the goat was treated with a flame retardant and it was thought that it would solve the problem; however, it was still burned down again.
There is a live cam which I looked at this morning of the Christmas Goat and it is a pretty sight that is apparently still standing so far this year. It is reported that the Goat has Twitter and Instagram accounts and provides updates about itself in Swedish and English. To deter future goat arsonists let‘s be clear, it is against the law to burn the goat, and at least one American has been arrested for setting fire to it. (Yahoo News; Huffington Post; The Report; Wikipedia; and numerous other news venues)
Making it to and through Christmas without burning down the goat can be challenging for most of us. Putting up the Christmas tree and decorations can be challenging. How many have been injured falling off of a ladder or slipping down the roof? Shopping for those Christmas gifts can sometimes be more like a full contact sport fighting the crowds and rushing from store to store. There is the yearly ritual of sending out the Christmas cards. In addition, the Christmas season usually has the most events that families must attend. Schools always have Christmas programs as do churches that families must attend. It is also a time of many sporting events which children are involved in along with band events, choir events, and on and on. Then there is the scheduling of Christmas gatherings with all the families, driving there, or flying there, just getting there. The cooking, the eating, and did I mention the credit card bills?
The Christmas season can be so frustrating that it can make the most kind and peaceful person want to burn down the goat. Let us remember the reason for Christmas is not the giving and receiving of presents. The reason for Christmas is not the gathering of families and fellowship with friends. The reason for Christmas is not even the helping of the unfortunate. What is the reason for the Christmas season? The short answer is, JESUS! The reason for the “good tidings of great joy which will be to all people” is as the angel of the Lord said to the shepherds, “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” So, whenever we become so frustrated that we could burn down the Christmas goat, let us remember what the real reason for the season is, and that reason is JESUS. Instead of frustration, place Jesus in the center of your heart and of your Christmas celebration; and He will give you, “great joy.”