Prior to “Christmas” Christ’s death and resurrection were remembered in what we call Easter. It wasn’t until the 4th century that the church even decided that His birth should be celebrated as a holiday. There are no earthly records of His actual birthdate, however Pope Julius I chose December 25. Many believe that date was chosen in an effort to adopt and absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival, a Roman festival held for their god Saturn.
The Saturnalia festival began on December 17th and lasted ‘til December 23rd. A sacrifice to Saturn was made, there was partying, private gift giving, riotous and uncontrolled behavior etc.
Initially, what we now call Christmas was called the Feast of Nativity. The custom quickly spread and by the end of the eighth century the celebration of Christmas had reached Scandinavia.
Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans controlled England in 1645. Vowing to rid England of decadence, they also cancelled Christmas. However, when Charles II was restored to the throne, Christmas returned as well. Some countries celebrate Christmas for several days during the season.
We were not alive, but in the United States, following the Revolution, English customs including Christmas, fell from favor. It wasn’t declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.
During the 19th century, Americans “re-invented” Christmas and changed it from a riotous carnival holiday into a more family-centered day of peace and remembrance. This was just a bit of history, but what is Christ’s birth really about?
His birth was marvelous, the fulfillment of prophecy and cause for joy in heaven and on earth. His life and subsequent death served his Father’s righteousness and love for us, God’s creations, so that we might be forgiven of our sins and return to Him.
Given the circumstances, I suspect God may sometimes watch in tears, when we do things that don’t reflect the love that was sacrificed for us. But then His heart may gladden in joy when we realize the cuts and bruises, the crown of thorns that was placed on Christ’s head, the nails in His hands and feet and the spear in His side, where there because of our sins; the sins we have committed and the ones we will commit.
But because of our realization He may also take tremendous joy when we acknowledge Him by faith and surrender our hearts to Him. Understand that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are faithful parts of and sent from God the Father, and it’s His love and righteousness that is shared for you.
It’s the Father’s love for you that is cause to celebrate the season. And because you have accepted Christ by faith, sight unseen, you have been blessed indeed. He gave His physical life for us because of His love for the Father. His birth was not about giving presents or money or material things, things of earth, it was about love, the Father’s love for us.
God takes all things and causes them to work together for good for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose. He loves us, His Spirit overflows with love for each of us personally.
Some have much, and some have little. The earth seems to measure true love by what earthly possessions we have or how much money or presents we give to others, especially at this time of year.
Perhaps it would be better to celebrate the birth of Christ each day of every year, by giving of ourselves to others. The Holy Spirit is within all Believers, the Holy Spirit is a part of who God the Father is. So, by giving of ourselves, aren’t we sharing His love with others.
For some that will mean forgiving someone who has offended you. Remember if you will not forgive, you will not be forgiven. For some, it’s asking others you have offended, for forgiveness. It’s easy to say, “I’m sorry,” asking for forgiveness requires a bit more on the part of both parties. For some it’s calling an old friend or family member, writing a note to someone sharing how much they have meant to you and your life. It may be bringing someone, not like you, into your home and sharing a meal.
It may be walking down the street you live on and meeting neighbors and praying over the land, or say, May God Bless You” to the clerk in the store. It may be walking up and hugging someone that doesn’t smell pleasing to you. In each case and thousands more you are celebrating not just Christ’s birth but sharing the real reason He came, His love.
It’s not what we have or are able to give, because anything we give was first given to us, it’s what we give of ourselves, a kind word, a word of encouragement, a helping hand, those things show the Father’s love to others.
Don’t make this time of year about theological debates that create animosity or money and earthy things. And know that, as a Believer in Christ you can never fail Him. He is in the Father’s hand and we are in His. He will take joy in our accomplishments and love us when we mess-up. The only failure is if we don’t believe and accept Him.
We don’t have to be in a “worship” service and singing or listening to a sermon to worship. As Jesus and the Holy Spirit are part of the Father, know that They are one and take pleasure when we recognize the Father’s handy work in our lives and the beauty of the earth, His creation all about us. Recognizing Him and taking joy, especially in what we would call “the little things in life,” and acknowledging Him is the highest form of worship. We can do that anywhere, as He is everywhere.
Although our hearts and spirit make be broken and weeping for many reasons, know that the Father sees and knows exactly what we are going through, and He is with us. You may have faith that is such you may move mountains, but if you have not love, it is worthless. Love is why Jesus came, give and do of the Father, such that He lays on your heart.
Blessings for you indeed personally, this and each day of your life!