Lots to ponder at Christmas: Jesus wasn’t born in December so why do we celebrate His birthday then? In fact, there was no tradition of Jews celebrating birthdays (according to first century historian Josephus) so why celebrate at all? Isn’t the holiday marked with pagan rituals? Should we have a tree? And what does that tree stand for? Isn’t the holiday too materialistic?
For me, Christmas is not so much the birth of Jesus, but rather an awe-inspiring celebration of the fact that God revealed Himself to mankind through Jesus. We rejoice in the truth that the Word become flesh and dwelt among us. The month is insignificant; the miracle is momentous!
The Gospel of John says in Chapter 1, verses 1-2 and 14: (1) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He was with God in the beginning. (14) The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.*
God decided, long before He made humans, that no matter what people did, He would love us…and He longs for our love in return. Jesus was God in action on earth; He is the evidence of God’s love for us.
Christmas is a time to remember this love and to demonstrate our love for others. Gift-giving is the most common way people do this, and for some people, gift-giving is their love language so there’s nothing wrong with that as long as their treatment of one-another is kind and a top priority. Remember, Matthew 25:34-40 says, how we treat others is how we treat God.
As for the tree, an evergreen tree, it reminds me that God is everlasting. Why attach any other meaning to it?
It does not matter what the origins of Christmas were; the past is past, and I am not responsible for what people did in the past regarding Christmas any more than I am responsible for the horrible things people did in the past like slavery, war, the holocaust, etc. It is my prayer that today’s Christians focus on TRUE LOVE (kindness, servant-like behavior, being other-centered) instead of gift-giving. Perhaps if this happened it would help people see that we intend Christmas to be about God and His great love.
*Those are the verses that woke me up to the beauty of Jesus being God in the flesh. They are the verses that I was reading when God gave me the vision which later became the Flip story in Right to the Soul.