Summary: Merry Christmas! It's not just a greeting, it's a declaration! The same declaration made by the angel's on the night of Jesus' birth.
Written by Steven A. Guglich
Luke 2:8 – 2:14
(PowerPoint presentation is available by request)
I love Christmas! It has always been my favorite time of the year! I love the decorations, the food, and of course the presents! What are some of your favorite things about Christmas? (wait for responses) Ya know another thing I like about Christmas... those corny, cheesey Christmas shows and movies.
And all of those things we mentioned are great of course, but what I love most about Christmas, is the reason we really celebrate it. And you all know what that is right? (Wait for response)
Have you ever wondered where we get some of the traditions we have at Christmas? Let’s test your knowledge of Christmas traditions. It’s time for True Christmas Trivia!
Question 1: What does Thor have to do with Christmas?
The tradition of the Christmas tree comes from northern Germany. For thousands of years, tribes decorated with tree branches, and, before they knew about Jesus, they linked certain trees to false gods! One such God was Thor, the Norse God of Thunder. One particular species of giant oak tree was called “The Oak of Thor.” If anyone cut it down, they believed, the god Thor would strike them dead!
In the 7th century a Christian missionary named Boniface came to northern Germany to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When the people began to reject Christ and support their belief in Thor, Boniface decided to put their false god to the test. He picked up an Axe and he cut down the Oak of Thor! To the surprise of the people, Boniface lived. Boniface then pointed to a small fir tree that was growing right next to Thor’s oak tree and told the people that the fir tree was to be a symbol of Jesus Christ. He explained to them that when they used the fir tree to build their homes they were to remember that Christ should be at the center of their households. The leaves of the fir that remained green all even in the darkest days would be a symbol that Christ be their constant light. The branches that reach out to embrace and its top that points to heaven would be a symbol of Christ, their Comfort and Guide. So people started cutting down small fir trees and hanging them in their houses to remind them of Jesus Christ. And that is what Thor has to do with Christmas!
Ok... how about one more True Christmas Trivia Question...
Question 2: Why do we call this time of clebration, Christmas?
The short answer is, the early church began celebrating the Eucharist regularly. The Eucharist, more commonly known as Communion or the Lord’s Supper is a time in which we break bread and drink wine together to remember Christ’s sacrifice for us. The early church began to make this a regular practice at a service called Mass in which the Lord’s Supper was practiced. Throughout the years they established special masses for the purpose of celebrating a particular aspect of Christianity. One such special mass was established to celebrate the Birth of Christ... this was Christ’s Mass. It began to be celebrated around December 25th because of an effort by missionaries to share the Gospel with the pagans. At this time of year they worshiped the sun, so the missionaries pointed them to the son of God, Jesus Christ. The birth of Christ and the taking of the Eucharist began to be celebrated at this time. Thus, we have Christ’s Mass... Christmas.
If you here today, I’m pretty sure you get the meaning of Christmas... we don’t have to answer the age-old question asked by Charlie Brown... “Doesn’t anybody know what Christmas is all about?” What I feel God has lead me to talk about today is bringing Christmas wherever we go. Here’s what I mean by that. As Christians, God has asked us to tell everyone we know about Him. To spread the Gospel. And here we have a worldwide holiday that everyone seems to know is a celebration of the birth of the Savior of the World, Jesus Christ. Ask anyone what Christmas is, and after some prodding most anyone can tell you it’s about the birth of Jesus. And here we are as Christians, given the prime opportunity to share Jesus Christ with people without hardly even having to bring it up, and we miss out. I am so guilty of this myself. You know what I mean, right? We have all these things to distract us from the truth about Christmas, and it gets worse every year. Back 40, 50 years ago it was OK to say Merry Christmas. Now, it’s not politically correct.
Ya know, he’s right... we really don’t say Merry Christmas much anymore! Why? Let’s look at some possible reasons why.