Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ, which is God’s special and highest gift to mankind and the world. It is a joyous occasion marked out in church season in commemoration that at a time in history, God took upon himself flesh and became man to perfect the salvation of man (John 1:1,14).
Christmas tells us that as a matter of fact, in a historic/factual time, “when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman… (Gal. 4:4).
The Bible interprets the Event of the birth of Jesus as Immanuel (God with us). ‘So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”’ (Matt. 1:22-23)
God with us makes the difference between us and others (Exod. 33:15-16).
The birth of Christ reversed the curse/woe earlier declared by the angels to the earth at the entrance of the Devil.
When Satan was hauled down to the earth, the angels exclaimed: “…Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you…” (Rev. 12:12). But when Jesus came/was born into the earth, an angel declared it “good tidings of great joy… for all people” as he announced that on that “day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” was born. Then a multitude of the heavenly host joined the angel and praised God saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” This is the background of the carols/singing at the celebration of the birth of Christ.
Christmas, in deed, calls for celebration. It is a season of great joy. It is a time of God showing His great love for us. God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to be born and his birth brought great joy to the world. Shepherds, wise men, and angels all shared in the excitement of knowing about this great event.
This Birth of Jesus was not an accident of history. It was rather the high point of the history of salvation which has been revealed and continued to unfold since the Fall of man. The prophets had told of it hundreds of years before. In fact, the whole of the Old Testament pointed at and moved towards the great Event. The star stopped over Bethlehem just to mark the way for those who were looking for this special born child.
The tragedy of the Fall is damnation and the alienation from God.
But the joy of the birth of Jesus is the remedy and reconciliation with God (salvation from sins). Thus, the History of Salvation, which started with God’s plan for man’s salvation as a remedy to the Fall of man and its disastrous consequences consummated/materialized in the Christ Event, which was kicked off with the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ was born so that he would one day pay for our sins and wrought salvation for us. His story (history) is one of truth, love, and hope and brought salvation to mankind.
Without Jesus, we would all die in our sins.
Celebrating Christmas without Christ is a worrisome anomaly.
The real meaning of Christmas is generally forgotten today. It appears to have become all about gifts and shopping, carols, decorations, get-togethers, feasts, festivities and funs. It is also seen as a “season” for lucrative business ventures, Platonism and anything but spirituality and reflection.
However, in this seeming merriment that marks the Christmas celebration, there is the paradox that Christmas is also a time of sorrow for many people. They don’t have the extra money to buy presents for their children, family, and friends. Many are saddened at Christmas time when they think of their loved ones who will not be able to come home for various reasons and that feasts and festivities are obviously only a fantasy and not a reality for them.
The reason for the celebration of Christmas is the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas is a time for celebration, no matter what may be happening, because of the inestimable Divine Gift of His Only Son, through whom we become children of God and have access to eternal life. When we receive this Gift, we are sure of a “Merry Christmas” and a lasting joy and peace.
The Venerable Dr Princewill Onyinyechukwu Ireoba, FIMC, CMC.
Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.