“When Pope Julius I authorized December 25 to be celebrated as the birthday of Jesus in A.D. 353, who would have ever thought that it would become what it is today. When Professor Charles Follen lit candles on the first Christmas tree in America in 1832, who would have ever thought that the decorations would become as elaborate as they are today. It is a long time since 1832, longer still from 353, longer still from that dark night brightened by a special star in which Jesus the king was born. Yet, as we approach December 25 again, it gives us yet another opportunity to pause, and in the midst of all the excitement and elaborate decorations and expensive commercialization which surround Christmas today, to consider again the event of Christmas and the person whose birth we celebrate.”” – Brian L. Harbour, James W. Cox
Certainly, Christmas has become obscured by all the trappings and ornamentation with which we have encrusted it. So much of the true story, the deeper meaning of the Christmas celebration has been lost to view, buried under rituals of the secularized holiday celebration. Even so, if the day arbitrarily set aside as that for celebrating Christ Jesus’ birth is the catalyst for celebration, perhaps that is in some way a good thing.
Yet, the important issue for me is that we recognize that the most of the rituals and traditions are extraneous to the central point. Christmas is a celebration of the incarnation of our Lord and Savior who pitched his tent with us and later died to save us from certain spiritual death. It is about the Creator and Sustainer of all things who laid aside His claims and prerogatives as God to become one of us in every way. He did so to demonstrate how we can live as He did, by the life of God within us. He then willingly sacrificed Himself to redeem us from our rebellion and restore us from our hopeless condition.
Jesus Christ our Savior did all of this to draw us back into deep fellowship with our God. His purpose was to make it possible for Him to live His life in us, in place of our own. He has invited us into His Kingdom of Light, into His very being. On these truths we must be clear in our own hearts and our own company. We need to make certain we celebrate what these truths mean for us and for the world.
“To perceive Christmas through its wrappings becomes more difficult with every year.“ – E. B. White