While there are those Christians who heftily argue about whether or not true Christians should celebrate a historically heathen day, attach the name of The Messiah to it, and celebrate it as His birth… I simply choose to lift up His name anyway. In a time and place where there are but a few morals, decency has become a thing of the past, righteous living frowned upon, and almost everything shifted into grey areas, I see this season as an amazing opportunity to show and share the love of Christ.. reminding the world of an unchanging God.
Just as Easter is hardly about the Easter bunny, Christmas is not about a tree or even the exchange of gifts (although He did bless us greatly). It is about God demonstrating Step 1 of His perfect plan. That plan did not end with sending His Son, but by Him bringing us back into relationship with Himself: His Bride. He remains The First of the resurrected, now seated at the right hand of The Almighty- having paid the penalty for our sin; for without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness. (Heb. 9:22)
The Hebrew Roots:
Jesus birth was foretold centuries prior in the Hebrew Scriptures. In the fullness of time, God sent His Word in flesh to redeem mankind:
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting . -Micah 5:2
And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth . -Isaiah 49:6
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel . -Isaiah 7:14
…When at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this . -Isaiah 9:1-2,6-7
The Christian Roots:
And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. – Luke 1:30-35
The early Christians are not known to have celebrated Christ’s birth, and the actual date of his nativity has been lost in history. The first recorded mention of the December 25 date is in the Calendar of Philocalus (AD 354), which assumed Jesus’ birth date to be Friday, December 25, in AD 1. Pope Julius I officially proclaimed December 25 to be the anniversary of Christ’s birth in AD 440. Giving December 25th Christian significance has been understood to have been an effort to help the pagan world embrace Christianity and trade in their worship of pagan gods for the One True God. Originally called the Feast of the Nativity, the custom spread to Egypt by AD 432 and to England by the end of the 6th century. By the end of the 8th century, the celebration of Christmas had spread all the way to the Scandinavian countries.
Christmas did largely win out over the pagan holidays, but was still celebrated with rowdy festivities and practical jokes – more like Mardi Gras than anything resembling the character of Christ. Puritans in England outlawed Christmas for years, and the holiday was not popular in early America. In fact, Christmas wasn’t declared a federal holiday in the United States until June 26, 1870.
The holiday then underwent a conversion. Christmas was ‘reinvented’ into the more moderate holiday we know today. Washington Irving and Charles Dickens both wrote tales that presented Christmas as a holiday of caring for the poor and bringing families together. As the angels sang above the shepherds that first night, Christmas was about ‘peace on earth, good will toward men.’
The Season is still a mixture of traditions pulled from a multitude of sources. While many of them have little to do with Jesus, most are morally neutral activities. However, even while Santa Claus ho ho ho’s down Main St. on a fire truck, and Hershey makes a killing on aluminum-wrapped chocolate bells, the reality of Christ’s birth does break through. Nativity scenes in downtown squares and in front of churches bring to mind the great gift of God – the King of kings lying in a manger, attended by shepherds. Christmas carols that cry ‘The Lord is come’ and ‘Come let us adore him’ are sung from door to door, reminding us all of what God has done.
So today, tell someone of the Good News! The Good News that Christ- born on whatever day- has paved The Way!
..in light of all of this: MERRY CHRISTMAS!!