Should followers of Jesus and believers of God’s Holy Scriptures celebrate Christmas? Sometimes I wonder. Should we celebrate December 25 as a special day? This week, my devotional reading brought me to a very convincing observation.
The excitement and anticipation of opening gifts on Christmas morning is experienced by most children across Canada and the United States. Because our dad was a Detroit fireman, he often worked on Christmas day. We were used to opening our Christmas gifts on days other than the 25th. Sometimes we would open them on Christmas Eve before he left for work early the next morning. But once in a while it was the day after Christmas. From this we learned that it wasn’t the date we opened the gifts that was important but rather it was the act of showing our love to each other through gift giving that was the focus.
The practice of gift giving was probably inspired by the biblical account of the gifts brought to Jesus by the wise men from the east.
"Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”… And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. (Portions of Matthew 2:1-12 ESV)
These men were scholars of scripture. They knew the prophecies that spoke about the coming King of the Jews, and had traveled for days, possibly months, following the star to find Christ. The purpose of their journey was to worship Jesus. Notice the words describing the emotions of the wise men. “When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.” When they found the home and saw young Jesus, they “fell down and worshipped him,” and then “offered him gifts”.
These men were filled with gladness because they had found Jesus. They believed him to be the promised messiah, sent from God. They worshipped him first, and then offered Him their gifts, most likely the best of their earthly possessions.
Today we have the benefit of reading the full account of Jesus’ life on earth. We are able to read of His miraculous birth, His powerful teaching and then of His sacrificial death and powerful resurrection. The whole purpose of Christ’s life on earth was for Him to die and take our punishment. His desire is to give us the best gift we could ever receive, the gift of forgiveness and freedom from guilt and shame.
This is a wonderful time of year to accept His gift of Salvation to you, and for you to give Jesus the gift of your love, and devotion.
A clear explanation of God’s gift of salvation and how to obtain peace with God is found at: http://peacewithgod.jesus.net/
My desire is that you will receive the Gift that Christ offers you today. My longing is that you will know Gladness like the Wise Men knew as they bowed before the King of Kings. And my prayer for you is that you will experience the Salvation Jesus has provided through His death, burial, and resurrection.
These are some of my first memories of Christmas preparations. Mom would bring out paper, glitter, and glue and my sister and I would draw stars, cover them in glue and then pour the glitter all over the page. We then held up the paper, shaking off the excess glitter onto a clean dry piece of paper, and would be thrilled to see the glittering star appear. We spent many happy hours decorating our home.
Mom and dad did many things to help make Christmas magical for us. The preparations started with the annual Hudson’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. We anticipated seeing Santa riding in his sleigh at the end, but we were just as excited to look for dad playing his trumpet in the Detroit Fireman’s Band. The next weeks were filled with trimming the tree, and visiting the many light displays around the city. One year my Grandpa Clinard helped to build the Christmas Fantasy Display at the Ford Rotunda in Dearborn, Michigan. I was so very proud as I walked through
that magical display, knowing that my grandpa had helped build it.
But there was no “Magic” involved in the events of that very first Christmas. It was a miracle, not magic that brought joy to the world that night. Mary, a very young woman, was told that she would become the mother of the Promised Saviour. I can’t imagine what this young devoted Jewish woman could have been thinking. She had kept herself pure, a virgin, to be worthy of a good Jewish husband. If what the Angel was saying were to come to pass, would her intended husband cast her aside? What would her parents say? What would the people of her town say? Would anyone believe her when she told them exactly what the angel had told her?
Luke 1:30–38 (HCSB)
Then the angel told her: Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end. Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?” The angel replied to her: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God. And consider your relative Elizabeth—even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called childless.
For nothing will be impossible with God." “I am the Lord’s slave,” said Mary. “May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel left her.
Mary believed the prophecies she had been taught telling of a promised messiah. That night she trusted that the words the Angel proclaimed were the intent of her heavenly father. She believed, trusted and obeyed. There have always been those who do not believe. There are many who choose not to trust the message of the Bible. They choose to ignore the truth that has proven itself throughout the years.
The birth of Christ was a miracle, not magical. While preparing your home for Christmas with glitter, glue and stars, remember to
thank God for His first Christmas gift to us, the birth of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Debi Snider... more