Christmas is one of my favorite holidays. It always has been – from my childhood to now. Christmas is a day to spend with family, to exchange gifts, to eat good food, and to enjoy being together. It is an exciting day, and also a chance to take a break from the daily grind. But, there seems to be a lot of confusion about Christmas these days. What is it all about? Why do we celebrate? Do we call it X-mas or Christmas? Was Jesus really born on December 25th?
For me Christmas is not complicated. As a follower of Christ, it is the day I celebrate his arrival into our world. The whole idea that God would become one of us, to walk among us, and provide a way back to him is amazing. The Bible tells me that Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem to a poor Jewish couple. When I reflect on this story three themes emerge that help explain why I think Christmas is awesome.
1. Christ’s birth is unpretentious. He is born in a stable to unknown parents. Sure the angels sing, the shepherds worship, and the wise men provide gifts. But, let’s face it. We would write a different story. Jesus is the Son of God. Doesn’t he deserve the best of everything. I would have him arrive as a rich, smart, and strong man in Rome. Not a helpless child. I certainly would not trust the Son of God to a couple who don’t have anything to offer him, other than love. God’s plan is crazy to me. It reminds me that He works in ways that I may not understand.
2. Christ’s birth is unconditional. God does not send Jesus into our world because of something that we have done. It is not like we earned it. The world was a mess when Jesus is born. Look around – it is still a mess. Rather, Jesus arrives at an unexpected time. In fact, almost all of the religious leaders of the day did not know about his birth. Better yet, they failed to recognize who he really is when they meet him later in the story. This theme teaches me that Jesus is a gift. I don’t earn it by doing good. I simply have to accept the gift.
3. Christ’ birth is unique. All of our major religions celebrate holidays. Some of them are similar, and some historians make the claim that our religions are all alike, and point towards the same God. But, I do not agree. I offer Christmas Day as an example. I don’t know of any other religion that celebrates something similar. Why? Because God would never enter our world as a helpless child. He would never humble himself and entrust his son to us. We would mess it up. In fact, if you know the rest of the story, that is exactly what happens.
I hope everyone celebrates Christmas. It is a great holiday – like no other. Merry Christmas.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.