Summary: Are you looking for something more for Christmas this year? As you see the little girl looking up the chimney, you can imagine her emotion of what else can there be for me?
Looking for Something More for Christmas? by Charles R. Newman
Luke 2:14 – 3rd Sunday of Advent
Dec. 14th, 2003
We all “expect” certain things for Christmas. Presents/gifts are most likely one of the most expected. Next I believe would be the food. Turkey, ham, dressing, yams, anybody hungry yet? Next, most folks expect family gatherings. This is where we are often disappointed.
Sometimes we simply don’t get along with all of our family. Most of you know who I’m talking about, it’s that certain cousin, aunt or uncle, or other relative that always seems to know how to get on your last nerve. They always have a better story than anyone else. Their children always get better grades in school. Their marriage and jobs are always top notch. While even their dog & cat don’t have any fleas!
On the flip side of this are the family members who we cannot see in this world any more. Yes, Christmas can be a sad time of the year when we miss those who have left this world. I still miss both of my parents, especially at Christmas. Christmastime always was so special at my folks’ house. It was done up “right & proper” every year. The tree was trimmed just so, all the gifts strategically placed to ensure only a minor earthquake on Christmas morning when all pounced for the gifts under the tree. I’m sure most all of us find ourselves in this situation each and every Christmas.
Christmas is one of the biggest holidays celebrated in America today. It is vastly over commercialized and the true meaning of Christmas is rarely ever talked about outside our churches. Let me ask you a serious question; if the commercialism of Christmas were taken away, would Christmas be the same for you? Oh sure, we all complain about how Christmas is so over commercialized and how the decorations always seem to come out a little earlier every year. But what if there were absolutely no commercialism in Christmas? After all, there is absolutely NO mention of celebrating Jesus’ birthday in the Bible.
Commercialism means to apply methods of business to something for profit, to exploit for financial gain. To determine what Christmas would be like without all the added commercialism we need to look at the true meaning of Christmas first.
The true meaning of Christmas is all in the name – Christ. The name Christ means Messiah. The full name can be said “Jesus the Christ” or Jesus the Messiah. The “mas” in Christmas comes from the old English word “masse” meaning festival. So when we put the two together it means the festival of Jesus the Messiah.
In preparing for this sermon, I have done some interesting research on how the modern day customs of Christmas have come about. I learned that prior to the Christian holiday we know today as Christmas, it was a pagan winter holiday. We have historical records dating back to the early Europeans, Germans, and Scandinavians. They believed in mythical gods and this was the time to observe a holiday that celebrated the end of what most believed was the worst of winter being behind them. The Yule log was a huge log that was put on a fire. While the log was burning, they would feast until the log burned out. The log could take as many as 12 days to completely burn out.
The first time there was an official day honoring the birth of Christ was when Pope Julius I in 349 A.D. made the declaration. The same date was also a celebrated Roman holiday. The Romans celebrated the god called Mithra.
Fast forward about 1,200 years and we find that in seventeenth century England, the Puritans objected to Christian celebrations that had no clear biblical basis. After all, the Bible does not tell us to celebrate Jesus’ birthday. As a result, the English Parliament in 1643 outlawed Christmas, Easter, and other Christian holidays. However, December 25 as a festive day was so popular that by 1660 the citizens reclaimed it.
When the Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620 they also brought with them a distrust of Christmas. In Boston, a 1659 Massachusetts law fined people for celebrating on December 25. But again, the day was so popular that the law was repealed in 1681, although strong religious opposition lasted into the next century.
Lutherans, Dutch Reformed, Catholic, and Anglican churches were most responsible for establishing Christmas traditions in the United States. Baptists, Presbyterians, Quakers, and Puritans voiced opposition to the day because of the pagan origins of most of the Christmas festivities.
The Christmas tree tradition was started in Germany in the late 1400s. At that time a popular theatrical performance, the Paradise Play, depicted the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise and was represented by a fir tree hung with apples. Soon the tree was placed in the homes of Christians, who interpreted it as a symbol of the coming Savior. The apples were replaced with small white wafers representing the Holy Eucharist or Communion. Later the wafers were replaced by pieces of pastry cut into shapes of stars, angels, hearts, flowers, and bells.