Summary: We must look through all the Christmas distractions and focus our attention on the love that highlights this season.
My son raises pigs. It is a hobby that is growing out of being a hobby. I myself like pigs, as long as the pigs belong to someone else. Actually, I grew up on a farm and I found the pig to consistently be the easiest of the farm animals to deal with. Pigs are extremely intelligent and from my observation they rank right up there with a good dog. Baby pigs are very inquisitive, very alert, enjoy interacting with humans and they will rapidly steal your heart if you spend any time with them. One thing that anyone who has raised pigs will acknowledge is the unbelievable love a mother pig has for her babies. The gentlest sow will instantly turn into a monster, the moment she thinks her babies are in danger. Like I said, I grew up on a farm and I have kept momma cows, sheep, goats, and horses away from their young; but, there is no way in the world that I would ever come between a momma pig and one of her babies. The love a momma pig has for her babies is an instinctive mothers love and it is a strong mother’s love.
We humans, on the other hand, are far too careless in the way we love. All too often our love is shallow and temporary. We use the concept of love to manipulate others and to get our own way, all without ever truly loving. Even we Christians seldom take the time to look at God’s love for us. We can easily find ourselves viewing love from a worldly perspective and thus we fail to see love from Jesus’ point of view. We are Christian, however, and this means we are to be like Jesus, which means we are to love like Jesus!
We are about to celebrate the birth of Jesus … at least that is what we are supposed to be doing on December the 25th. How much time have we been giving to thinking about God’s love toward us or about our love toward our family, friend, neighbors and others. How much effort do we put into putting love into Christmas?
We need to know why we celebrate Christmas
We are rapidly approaching that season when large portions of the world are caught up in the year’s most recognized but least understood holiday … Christmas. One would think that the name of this holiday should be sufficient for everyone to understand why we celebrate Christmas; unfortunately however, a religious service to honor the significance of Christ’s birth is far from many people’s minds. Even those who should know better too frequently fail to celebrate Christmas by focusing on our love for God, our love for one another and our love for God’s creation.
We Have to Ignore The Detractions If We Are To Put The Love of God First
a. When was Jesus Born?
Those who would detract from our reason for celebrating Christmas are fast to point out that we are probably celebrating the birth of Christ at the wrong time of the year. They may be right. The Gospel writers, for some reason, do not give us an exact date when this blessed event took place. Perhaps they were not sure themselves or did not consider it to be of any real importance. We do know, however, that it was customary for the shepherds to bring their sheep down from the mountains some time around the month of September. Because of the shepherd’s nearness to the city of Bethlehem, and their being outdoors the night of Jesus’ birth, it would appear that Jesus could very well have been born sometime in September. If you couple this with the fact that September is the month for the Jewish New Year, the month for the celebration of Rosh Hashana or the Feast of Trumpets then September would be an excellent time to celebrate the birth of Christ. But, it didn’t turn out that way. We celebrate the birth of Christ in December. Does it matter? No. It is better to celebrate at the wrong time of the year than to not celebrate the birth of Christ at all.
When we celebrate the birth of Jesus does not detract from the importance of God’s love toward mankind one little bit.
b. Did the Apostles celebrate Christmas?
Those who would detract from our Christmas celebration are fast to point out that we do not have any biblical evidence that early Christians celebrated the birth of Christ. Yes, we do know that, at the time of the Apostles, it was customary to celebrate birthdays and thus we should have evidence that early Christians were celebrating Jesus’ birthday. But, we do not. In fact, it takes another 300 years before there is any indication that Christians were celebrating the birth of Christ. In 313 A.D. the Roman emperor Constantine instituted the “Edict of Toleration,” which declared the equality of all religions, to include Christianity. This was a monumental occasion. Christians had undergone severe persecution for 300 years and now they were at last free to openly worship Christ. It was not long after the Edict of Toleration that we have the first recorded celebration of Christmas, which took place in Rome in 336 A.D. By this year, the Liturgy of the Roman Church had firmly established December 25th as the birthday of Jesus and ever since this time Christians have been openly celebrating Jesus’ birth.