Summary: We have many traditions celebrated during Christmas, where did they come from? Are they scriptual? In this sermon we discuss the Star, the Magi, and the Christmas tree, but they are nothing without Christ, Keep Christ in Christmas
Keep Christ in Christmas
There are many traditions related to Christmas time. Some are Bible based and some are not. Last week we discussed the origins of the date, and of Santa Claus, today I wish to discuss The Star, The Magi, and the Christmas Tree.
1. The Star:
a. Some think this is the alignment of Saturn (Sol), the Star of the Jews and Jupiter (King). This event was known to occur in 7 B.C. in May to June and again in September.
b. Some astrologers say that when Jupiter is in the constellation of Aries, an immortal or a kingly person is born.
c. For a Star to rise in the East and move West is normal, our Sun rises in the East and settles in the West.
d. The Magi saw the star rising in the East and they followed it Westward to Jerusalem.
e. Were they the only ones to see it?
i. Possibly others saw it and did not understand it
ii. The Star was for the Star gazers.
iii. Astronomer Kepler saw a similar event in 1603
iv. The Star was a one time miraculous event for the Magi.
f. How did they know it was His Star?
i. Possibly because the Star itself was so extraordinary
ii. Balaam’s prophecy (Numbers 24:17)
iii. They somehow also knew the Jews were expecting a Great King.
Did the Star rise at his birth, the announcement of his birth by Gabriel, or 2 years prior to allow for travel?
2. The Magi
a. Wise men, magicians, astrologers and advisors
b. Daniel becomes Chief Magi under Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon
c. Daniel would have known all the prophecies of Isaiah, Micah and the rest of the OT prophecies concerning the Messiah
d. How many were there?
i. We say 3, but possibly more.
ii. Their arrival caused a stir in Jerusalem
iii. They probably made announcements in the City “Where is He born King of the Jews?
iv. They were wealthy
e. The meaning of their gifts
i. Gold=Kingly gift
ii. Frankincense= Priestly Gift
iii. Myrrh=Anointing oil, could be for anointing a prophet or the dead.
iv. Costly gifts. In today’s market these could bring about 10-20 thousand dollars or more depending on size.
v. Could this be how Joseph and Mary financed their trip to Egypt until Joseph could set up shop? Wouldn’t that be just like God to met a need before the need arrived?
vi. Traditionally we celebrate the arrival of the Magi during the first week of Jan (Epiphany). Yet manger scenes have them arriving at the barn. Could you imagine Joseph and Mary staying in the barn for a week? Two weeks, how about 2 years?
vii. The Shepherds found a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths, the Magi came to the house where the child was with his mother. The words for baby would signify infant, the word for child could mean toddler.
What is the origin of the Christmas tree?
The Christmas tree today is a common custom to most of us. There are many interesting connections to ancient traditions such as Egyptian and Roman customs, early Christian practices, and Victorian nostalgia. However, most scholars point to Germany as being the origin of the Christmas tree.
One of the earliest stories relating back to Germany is about Saint Boniface. In 722, he encountered some pagans who were about to sacrifice a child at the base of a huge oak tree. He cut down the tree to prevent the sacrifice and a Fir tree grew up at the base of the oak. He then told everyone that this lovely evergreen, with its branches pointing to heaven, was a holy tree - the tree of the Christ child, and a symbol of His promise of eternal life.
Another story from Germany is about Queen Victoria. She often visited relatives in Germany and while she was there, she fell in love with Prince Albert. After they were married, they moved back to England to raise their family. Prince Albert decorated a tree and ever since that time, the English, because of their love for their Queen, copied her Christmas customs including the Christmas tree and ornaments. This story took place in the 19th century, around 1830.
Another story about the origin of the Christmas tree says that late in the Middle Ages, Germans and Scandinavians placed evergreen trees inside their homes or just outside their doors to show their hope that spring would soon come.
Another legend that has not been proved is that Martin Luther is responsible for the origin of the Christmas tree. This story says that one Christmas Eve, about the year 1500, he was walking through the snow-covered woods and was struck by the beauty of the snow glistened trees. Their branches, dusted with snow, shimmered in the moon light. When he got home, he set up a small fir tree and shared the story with his children. He decorated the Christmas tree with small candles, which he lighted in honor of Christ's birth.