While there are different opinions about the time of the birth of Jesus, we should also know the origins of Christmas. When people gathered in great numbers to celebrate the birth of Jesus, this was named Christmas during the late twelfth century, with its literal meaning being Christ’s Mass. With the coining of the name Christmas, the noble theme of God’s love has been distorted with some fictional characters of fantasies.
One such is the character of Santa Claus, created to highlight the human attitude of generosity, while overshadowing the generosity of God’s love depicted in the below verse.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.John 3:16
Hence, this is the season to examine the areas that are overshadowing the incredible love of God. It is also pertinent to look upon ourselves whether our noble attitudes and gestures are somehow hiding the love of God, while it ought to reflect His love.
While the unimaginable act of God is hidden behind the glamour of the festivities, the public focus has been diverted to imaginary characters, miniatures, and seasonal tunes. If we think that any of these played a prominent role during the birth of Jesus, then it shows that we do not understand the genuine love God provided to us as a gift in the form of His Son.
Coming together as a family felt necessary, and subsequently, the family fails to recognize the gift of God during Christmas. In some parts of the globe, people await snowfall to celebrate a ‘White Christmas’, a creation of Charles Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol’, which connected his childhood fantasy of celebrating Christmas to a place where snow covered the earth.
People today decorate their homes during the Christmas season with original or artificial pine, spruce, and fir trees, and the ancient people hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. Many people presume that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness. Some faiths were of the idea that evergreen trees are the favourite plants of the sun god.
During the 1800s, this pagan thought crept into the Christmas festivity from the earliest winter solstice celebrations. With Queen Victoria’s decorating habits to the annual lighting of the Rockefeller Center tree in New York City, this pagan tradition continues in our homes, by us keeping Christmas Trees during the Christmas season.
Knowing it well, we are still compromising our standard of faith with those who do not know what they are doing in the pretext of celebrations.
We are aware of the commercial trend prevailing in Christmas. The traditional way of its celebration paves the way to commercial practices during this festivity. People spend money on purchasing Christmas trees, accessories, decorative materials, organizing parties, making cakes, and releasing new musical albums. Hanging stars at our doors, displaying the manger holding the babe Jesus also becomes the main focus of this festive season.
Establishing a business out of the Christmas festival was started even before the birth of Jesus. While the place of the birth of Jesus was foretold as Bethlehem, the prophecy did not specifically mention it because the option was kept open. Unfortunately, no one gave the poor couple a place for a night, as many found it as an option to make their fortune by letting their place for rich people.
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”Micah 5:2
Later, once the manger won the chance of holding the heavenly babe, shepherds were informed about the birthplace of babe Jesus. As Mary and Joseph were moving door to door to find a place to give birth to Lord Jesus, today Jesus Himself is knocking on the door of our hearts to give us a new life. We may also lose our chance of having the Lord Jesus in our lives just as the resident people of Bethlehem, if the idea of celebrating Christmas in a glamorous, traditional and commercial manner predominates our hearts.
A True Christmas
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”John 3:3
A real Christmas is not celebrating the unknown date and time of the birth of Jesus, but cherishing the new life promised to us through the Son of God. The above conversation of Jesus is a prelude to the announcement of Good News in verses 16 and 17.
In the previous chapter, John captured the stringent action of Jesus, clearing the temple courtyard during a festive season with a whip.
To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!”John 2:16
According to the Bible, we are the temple of God, and the warning is strenuous that if we destroy His temple, He will destroy us.
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.1 Corinthians 3:16-17
The temple of God, our hearts, is a sacred place, and it needs to be kept holy as the God who is dwelling in us is Holy. Inadvertently, this clause is not observed by many of us, and we turned His temple into a market place. While we figure out the churches and christian organizations that are paving way for marketing techniques, we fail to understand that our hearts are filled with business strategies, and we do not value the presence of the God in our lives.
Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.John 14:23
In the morning we place a lengthy list of our needs to Him and in the evening we go to sleep by sending Him a thanks note indirectly rating Him as a better merchant who is eligible to open many more counters to run His business. Further during the festive season, we appoint Him as our event manager to organize what He did not tell us to organize.
Some may think that glamorous and traditional celebrations of festivals are necessary to bring awareness among the gentiles. While it spreads awareness about Christianity, it has also ranked Christmas at par with other pagan festivals, as they do not find any difference from their way of celebrations.
We should commemorate the transformation of our lives as a result of the gift that God sent us. It is more of Our Story rather than His Story.