Summary: Every Christian needs to understand that what we celebrate on Dec. 25th looks nothing like Bethlehem. What can we do to make is all about Jesus?
Another Christmas, some of us have had more than others. There is hustle and bustle happening all around us, chestnuts roasting on the open fire and Christmas lights illuminating the dark nights. Does it feel like Christmas to you? Now we all know that Christmas celebrations as we know them have their roots in pagan festivals and practices. There is certainly no mention of Christmas in the bible and we don’t see anyone celebrating the birth of Christ in the church until around 350 AD. Almost every part of what we do at Christmas has nothing to do with Jesus, which is why it is so easy for unchurched people to enjoy the festivities. It is has become time off, a time of spending and economic growth. They have replaced ‘Merry Christmas’ with ‘Happy Holidays’, removing even the hint of Jesus from world holiday. So why do we celebrate Christmas along with everyone else and include ourselves in what everyone else is doing? Why do you celebrate? This morning I want to speak about the significance of the birth of Christ and why I believe we should celebrate.
1. There is significance in gifts
Imagine you were Mary and Joseph. What a strange set of circumstances to find yourself in before marriage. They were from Nazareth, but a census is being done which means travelling back to the city of your ancestors, fulfilling the prophecy that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem, the city of David (Micah 5:2). They would find nothing but a stable to rest and have the child. This was no way to begin a life together and certainly not proper surroundings to have a child, yet here they were in a barn with animals. There were no presents, no bows and no pretty decorations to be found, but a gift was being given that was easy to find. You see the Messiah was being born and he would have been the only child that night in a feeding trough. The Saviour had come at last, what a treasure the shepherds found that night.
Gifts, as I have come to understand, are generally given out of love for an individual. Some give gifts to appease, some give gifts out of shame or guilt, but the only gifts that mean something are those given out of love. As Jesus breathed air for the first time in His existence, he brought to life prophecies and promises of the utmost importance. God loved us so much that Christ came to save us. There was nothing that we needed more and truly there is no gift that has meant more to those who know Him. Gifts, although not reserved for Christmas, given out of love can be a wonderful thing.
2. There is need for family
Mary and Joseph would have been having a very difficult time with their respective families at this point in their relationship. They were promised to each other for marriage, but she’s pregnant already. Now while we’re very happy to accept what was going on, I doubt that their families were. Even Joseph struggled until an angel visited him. What is amazing about what happens is that almost immediately after Jesus’ birth people are attracted to where He was. A new definition of family was being born through Jesus, which we now know as the church. Christ’s birth brought unlikely people together and united them in worship.