Sermons

Summary: This Christmas carol lists many things that make it the most wonderful time of the year. And while kids jingle-belling and parties and caroling are all fun and wonderful, the song fails to mention the one thing that truly makes Christmas wonderful-Jesus.

IT'S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR

The title of the sermon is taken from the popular Christmas song of the same name. The songwriter declares it's the most wonderful time of the year and then goes on to say why. The kids jingle-belling along with holiday greetings and gay happy meetings (that meant something different back then).

It talks about friends and parties and marshmallows, it mentions caroling and mistltoeing and on and on it goes. Not that the things mentioned in the song are not wonderful, but there's one thing missing-the birth of Jesus. The song talks about it being the most wonderful time of the year yet it fails to mention the biggest reason why it is the most wonderful time of the year.

Which highlights a big problem: the idea that Christmas is wonderful without Christ. For many people this is the reality. In their eyes Christmas is wonderful because of everything but Jesus. I would go so far as to say that for some people if the focus was primarily on the birth of Jesus Christmas would be a downer.

You've no doubt been hearing the slogan 'keep Christ in Christmas'. No more of this Happy holidays stuff, it's Merry Christmas. And you might think this is a trivial issue but I believe this represents one of the many ways Christ has been so subtly removed from Christmas.

A friend of mine posted a video about this debate and the host, who was a minister, basically said it's not worth arguing or debating about; when someone says, 'Happy Holidays' we should just be polite and respond in kind. My friend didn't indicate his feelings one way or the other about it, simply citing that it was interesting.

I took the liberty to highlight that although the video had some good points, I can see the merit behind the push for Merry Christmas. I mentioned that people see it as just another way Jesus is being pushed out of society. I noted prayer and the bible being removed from schools and 10 commandments plaques being removed from public places, etc.

He responded by saying I had some good points. I do admit that I don't feel the need to make a huge deal about the 'keep Christ in Christmas' movement but I do understand the issue at hand. We can look around and see many ways Christ has been removed from Christmas.

Let's look at some of those as well as learning the history of some of our Christmas traditions that became the replacement reasons why it's the most wonderful time of the year and perhaps what we can do to change it back to the real reason it should be the most wonderful time of the year.

1) Christmas traditions.

Was Jesus born on December 25th? The exact date of Jesus' birth has never been determined although some believe it was near March 25th. Most agree that it was not December 25th. So how did December 25th become the day it is celebrated?

In 274 A.D. the Roman Emperor, Aurelain decreed that the sun-god, Sol Invictus, was the main patron of the empire. This cult became the main rival to Christianity as the most popular religion in Rome.

In 354 A.D., Bishop Liberius of Rome decreed that December 25th be adopted as the day of nativity so as to counter the sun-god cult's celebration in correlation with the winter solstice. However, some of the sun-god type worship elements weaved their way into Christianity and thus, many of our Christmas traditions have these pagan beginnings.

In an attempt to speed the sun along on its journey through winter people would light candles and burn logs. To defy winter's "killing ability" they would fill their homes with evergreens, mistletoe, holly, ivy and other greenery.

The Christmas tree. This custom began in the early 1600s as an outgrowth of the Scandanavian practice of worshipping evergreen trees during winter. Evergreens were often placed on the ridge poles of new houses for good luck. During mid-winter, they were decorated with gilded nuts signifying stars, apples signifying the moon and candles signifying the sun.

Such festivities recognized the permanent "life force" of the evergreen tree in contrast to the barren hardwoods of the season. The Romans would hang trinkets on pine trees to honor the god Saturn. These customs were integrated into the growing number of Christmas legends.

The Yule log. The Yule log was originally an object of worship for Celtic priests known as Druids. They would cut down a tree and dress it with garland and flowers and used it to start a sacrificial fire each year to celebrate the soon-to-come spring season. The ashes from the Yule log were spread over the fields of German farmers in an attempt to increase the fertility of their crops.

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