Christmas: It’s all about Jesus!

Published 3:10 pm Thursday, December 24, 2009

Exactly what is Christmas all about? Is it just the trees, shopping, gifts, cards and eating or it is something more? This year, as in several before, there has been a lot of discussion over whether we should just say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

Luke 2:1-7, tells the story of Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem. Mary, though a virgin, is expecting a child, and upon their arrival at the local inn, they were told there was no room. Maybe this is typical of some of the Christmas celebrations today. There is a lot of activity, but little room for Jesus.

The celebration of Christmas is ALL about Jesus. The first recorded celebration of the birthday of Jesus was about A.D. 98. In A.D. 274 an emperor of the old Roman world chose Dec. 25 as the birthday of the unconquered sun (S-U-N). He recognized that at this mid-winter date the sun reaches its lowest point in the southern sky and gradually begins to move north again. (Today we call this the winter solstice. It actually happens about Dec. 22.) To celebrate this annual rebirth of nature, houses were decorated with greenery and candles, and presents were given to children and the poor.

By A.D. 336, the church had decided that all believers should celebrate the birthday of the Lord Jesus, the unconquered Son (S-O-N), the Son of righteousness, on Dec. 25, since the actual date was unknown, and the church adopted many of the decorating traditions of that day. To this the Germans added Christmas trees; the Italians added Nativity scenes; the Dutch added Santa Claus or “Saint” Claus (who was bishop of Asia minor in the fourth century). Colonial Americans added chimney stockings and current-day Americans added confusion. Are you surprised to know that Santa Claus was a Christian?!

Here’s the question: Is there any room in your celebration for Jesus, or has he been crowded out by parties, parades, pictures, poinsettias and presents?

More than 40 percent of annual retail receipts come from Christmas shopping. Americans send four billion greeting cards by U.S. mail. The President alone sends more than 40,000.

In 1644, the English Parliament passed strict laws making it illegal to commemorate the Christmas season in any way. Christmas celebrations had become so depraved and rowdy that the meaning of Christmas had been completely lost in an abundance of partying, drunkenness and rioting. Decent people found it necessary to stay indoors for safety.

No matter how hard you try, you can never crowd Jesus out of Christmas. Call it a holiday — but holiday is just the compound contraction that means Holy Day. Call it Christmas — and know the “Christ” is Jesus and “mas” means worship. So every time we say Christmas, we are saying “worship Christ!” Call it Xmas — X is the Greek letter chi, a frequent abbreviation for Christ. So every time we call it Xmas we are still crying out CHRIST-MAS.

Focus on giving — see the wise men. Focus on singing — hear the angels. In the candy cane’s shape, we see the shepherd’s staff; in its color, salvation; in the three strips, the Holy Trinity; in the taste we remember that the Lord is good.

In the lights, see His star; in the color green, see that He offers eternal life; in the white, see His purity; in the purple, see His royalty; in the gold, see His riches; in the red, see His blood; in the gifts, see His generosity; in the Christmas tree, we see Him on Calvary’s tree. Christmas is ALL about celebrating Jesus and God’s love for us.

The Rev. Mark A. Crosten Sr. is the Senior Pastor at East End Baptist Church.