And she gave birth to her first-born son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:7)
Christ-mass...a mass, or celebration in commemoration of Jesus Christ, our Lord. It was not instituted by God. Though the birth of Christ is recorded in the second chapter of Luke, God did not inspire any of the writers to record the actual date of the event, nor even the approximate time of the year.
It wasn't in December, because the shepherds still had their flocks in the fields. Some Bible scholars feel that it was sometime in the Fall because a census was taken for the purpose of taxing the people and that would logically occur after the Fall harvest.
Others feel that it was in Spring, around Passover, because the sacrificial lambs used at Passover were one year old, and Jesus was the Sacrificial Lamb who redeemed all mankind; therefore, it is logical that He was born around the time of all sacrificial lambs. But man's logic rarely arrives at God's truth, so we will never know for sure unless God reveals it to us.
The birth of Christ was not observed for the first 200-300 years after His death. It entered the Roman church unofficially in the 4th century and was adopted officially in the 5th century. It was established to offset the pagan celebration of Brumalia (December 25), following the Saturnalia (December 17-24), the observance of the shortest day of the year, and the arrival of the `new sun'. This winter festival was known as the `Nativity of the Sun'. So, the birthday of the sun-god, became the accepted birthday of the Son of God for Christians.
Along with the date, several pagan customs filtered into the Christmas celebration. Mistletoe was considered sacred to the sun because of its healing power; holly berries were also sacred to the sun; the word, yule, means `wheel', a pagan symbol of the sun, etc.
The evergreen tree was significant in a Babylonian fable. It seems that a new evergreen tree sprang out of an old tree stump, and this symbolized that Nimrod, the founder of Babylon had come to life again. Nimrod's mother claimed that on each anniversary of his birth, Nimrod visited the evergreen tree and left gifts.
The Encyclopedia Britannica states, "Santa Claus is a distortion of the name, Saint Nicholas, a Roman Catholic bishop who lived in the 5th century. A legend of his surreptitious bestowal of dowries on the three daughters of an impoverished citizen is said to have originated the old custom of giving presents in secret on the eve of Saint Nicholas Day (December 6), subsequently transferred to Christmas Day." Hence the association of Christmas with Santa Claus.
Though armed with all this information, we shouldn't throw out the baby with the bath water. The date isn't the right date, and pagans worshipped the greenery, but that isn't sufficient reason to disregard Christmas as some horrible error to be avoided by `true' Christians. Let's look at it as a time of the year when we demonstrate the love of God, and introduce someone to Jesus.
This especially applies to those of us who may be alone during the holidays. We should reach out to someone, rather than wait for someone to reach out to us. Plenty of people wait for someone to acknowledge them. What could be better than to have a Christian show them the love of Jesus.
By reaching out, we initiate the principle of sowing and reaping. It's like trying to give away a smile or a hug. It can't be done without getting one in return.
Disciples may want to tithe Christmas month to the Lord by filtering everything through Him.
How would Jesus say it?
How would Jesus handle this situation?
What would Jesus do if He saw that person right this minute, would He ignore him or would He walk over to him and reach out to him?
If Jesus were a guest in my house, how would He feel about my behavior toward my spouse or my children?
What would He want me to do where my neighbor is concerned?
Instead of explaining Jesus to someone, why not spend Christmas month relying upon Him? He asks us to be His disciples, to emulate Him. That's not a glorious assignment.
For thirty years Jesus was obscure, then for three years, He went through popularity, scandal and hatred. He gathered a handful of fishermen as disciples, one of whom betrayed Him, one denied Him, and all forsook Him. Yet, He says it is enough for the disciple to be as his Master.
He didn't draw up an outline for church prosperity and evangelical success, He simply said, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you." (Matthew 6:33)
December is just one month, one twelfth of the year. It really isn't much to dedicate to God, who brought His Son into the world as the sacrificial Lamb to redeem all mankind to Himself. Let's make a note to dedicate December to Jesus!
Jesus is King!
P.S. What are you doing of eternal value?
Question for today: How will I commit December to Jesus?