The Christmas season is an awesome time of year. I think most of us can agree on this. It’s a time where spirits are elevated, and the happiness and joy is even palpable. A season when many of us enjoy elaborate and tasty feasts, kids dream of opening their presents around a beautifully-lighted and decorated tree, and we relax with the company of our family and friends.
The first written acknowledgement to celebrate Christmas on December 25th was in Rome in 336 AD. I doubt there was much pomp and circumstance to that first celebration. However, over the years, many secular customs from around the world have become associated with this holiday. From the Christmas tree to the mistletoe to Santa Clause (although Saint Nicholas was a real person from the province of Lycia in the fourth century, clearly his charity has become mostly legend), most of the Christmas celebration we see today involves lively and fun customs adopted from various cultures around the globe.
However, those who came together to celebrate in 336 AD did not have decorated trees, mistletoe or wrapped presents. They were there to celebrate the birth of a man, Jesus, who had died over 300 years prior. This seems more like a meeting and far less fun than our current celebrations. Regardless of its apparent simple agenda, I know their joy was second to none. Why?
This man, Jesus, who they celebrated was a great teacher and seen to have performed many miracles during his life, and after dying by being crucified, was seen by many people (more than 500 documented in the Bible) as his body was resurrected to life. He was said to be the incarnate Son of God, who can reunite each of us back to the one true God after our physical death. This is why these people celebrated with unrivaled joy and hope.
You see, despite the greatness of this holiday season, the decorated trees and mistletoes and presents get put away. The happiness and joy of the season is transient, as the days in our lives move on. But for the person who believes in Jesus, this joy and hope is experienced every day. Christians can celebrate each day the fact that the Son of God came and died and rose again so that they can be reunited with God in Heaven for eternity.
I hope this Christmas season you enjoy the carols, food, and decorations, but more so that you find the true reason to celebrate: the One who is “the resurrection and the life.” Jesus is the the One who gives joy, hope and peace during the Christmas season, and forever!
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel, God with us.” Isaiah 7:14 (NIV).