Christmas is a wonderful time of year, and especially for believers. As followers of Christ, it is important that we celebrate the sacred occasion when God gave us His greatest Gift--Jesus. However, the commercialization, misinformation, and secularization surrounding this holiday has dampened many Christians’ enthusiasm for Christmas. Perhaps you, like so many others, find yourself going through the motions and feel as if Christmas has become just another event in the year-end holiday blitz. If so, I want to encourage you to see Christmas differently this year. I want you to be able to approach Christmas with the same awe and reverence that the shepherds had on the very first Christmas over 2,000 years ago. I want to remind you why we have Christmas and the Reason for the season.
Why do we have Christmas? The term comes from the Christ mass, the church service celebrating the birth of Christ. You probably learned as a child that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday, but it may surprise you to learn the date was calculated from historical Jewish temple records. In fact, Christians were celebrating Jesus’ birth on December 25th within about a century of the Crucifixion, nearly 150 years before the first recorded pagan celebrations on that date.
Why does Christmas matter? Christmas is the miraculous moment when Heaven touched Earth and shook eternity. Jesus actually explained His own birth, saying “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” (John 3:16). Jesus was truly a gift to the world. The angel told the shepherds that His birth was the reason for “good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people” (Luke 2:10) and that Jesus was “born to you” (Luke 2:11). While Mary gave birth to Jesus, He was born to you, to me, and to all people. Christmas is the day when “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14), the day when God radically intervened to eternally change the destiny of humanity. Christmas is the magnificent occasion when the Creator of all the universe loved us so very much that He traded His glory and splendor for swaddling cloths and a manger in the hope that we might love Him in return. Christmas is the day that God changed everything.
Why should we celebrate Christmas? The celebration of Christmas is fundamentally a response to prophecy. The Old Testament is filled with foreshadowing and prophecies that tell of the coming Messiah. Christmas marks the fulfillment of many of these promises and we should rejoice at Christmas because of God's faithfulness. But there's more. Some of these prophetic passages remain unfulfilled. These scriptures remind us that God is not slack and Jesus is coming back! At Christmas, we not only celebrate the fulfillment of prophecy we have seen; we also turn our spiritual eyes to the heavens in eager, faith-filled anticipation of that day when Jesus comes again as He promised.
So this Christmas, take time to celebrate Jesus’ coming. Look back with gratitude for His first coming and look forward with great faith in anticipation of His second coming. Rejoice as the angels did, “saying Glory to God in the highest!” (Luke 2:14). Meditate as Mary did, keeping all these things and pondering them in your heart (Luke 2:19). Finally, be awestruck as the shepherds were, glorifying and praising God for all the things you have heard and seen (Luke 2:20). This Christmas, I pray that you will respond to the miracle of Jesus’ coming with a fresh sense of wonder and amazement, transformed by the radical love of God, and understanding that Christmas changes everything. Merry Christmas!