Read:Luke 2:1-20; John 16:24-25; John 15:15-18; Matthew 7:21; Matthew 18: 1-4; Luke 18:15-17
“Merry Christmas!” this is how we greet our fellow Christians even non-Christians alike on or before the 25th of December. Though it hurt to hear from my atheist students statements like Christmas is only for children, having Santa Claus as the centre of it, I don’t stop greeting them the same “Merry Christmas” cheerfully. I can’t help the feeling of happiness and excitement I want to share to them. I motivated myself to focus on the thought that it is the perfect timing to share about Jesus to them unmindful of the possibility of rejection. Though I briefed myself not to fret from unbelievers’statements about God or of the bible or about Christianity which I successfully did, there was this event that I wasn’t able to prepare myself with. On the Christmas day at about 6 pm, I can’t help but cry deep down inside when one neighbour after I greeted her merry Christmas responded coldly, “No Christmas…” I paused trying to get back on her and asked, “Why?”I thought she had a blue Christmas maybe because she’s unable to celebrate it with her family or loved ones due to work or that she didn’t receive Christmas presents or prepared special and delicious food for nochebuena.But on my surprise I heard her explained, “We don’t celebrate Christmas.”
I remembered we once talked about religion, Christianity, sects and denominations’ similarities and differences. I remembered she told me she’s a Christian but don’t celebrate Christmas since their church believe it’s a form of paganism and since Jesus Christ’s birth didn’t fall exactly on the 25th of December; not mentioned in the bible. Yes there is nothing enlisted in the bible about the exact date Jesus was born but the fact that we Christians have the desire to celebrate Christ’s birth, we set a uniform date to be followed by Christians worldwide. And with this paganism thing about Christmas, are they considering Jesus man-made? What is paganism? It is the belief of foreign gods made by human hands and practices and rituals includes in it.Whatsoever they explained this event as a form of paganism, I turned my back out of disappointment which she easily noticed so she looked for me after an hour and greeted “Happy New Year anyways.”
What’s the essence of Christmas?
We individually celebrate our own birthday. Our family, friends and loved ones celebrate our special day with us. What more can we not celebrate the birthday of our lord and saviour? In line with different denominations’ doctrinal definition, beliefs and practices, celebrating Christmas mustn’t be the issue of whether to follow or not the exact date–25th of December, but to remember that 2000 years ago there was a child born in a manger in the town of Bethlehem to bring forth our salvation.
I wish my neighbour’s church as to how they claim its body as Christian, would celebrate Jesus Christ’s birth in whatever date they felt desirable or at least they must celebrate it in their hearts as true Christ followers since the essence of Christmas is not just the banquet, the exchanging of gifts, or of Santa’s favourable rewards for kids. The essence of Christmas is sharing, giving love and forgiving those who sin’s against us as what Jesus’ did when He shed His blood on the cross of Calvary. Let’s not forget this verse in John 3:16“For God so loved the world that He gave His only son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” This is the first ever bible verse I memorised in Sunday school. I really appreciated my parents and Sunday school teachers for sharing this verse to me and teaching me stories in the bible about Jesus at my young age. They did not fret my inability to read and write as an infant. Hence, they pursued to catch my attention. I prayed that Sunday school teachers for kids have patience and love for the work laid on them for it is an essential and critical stage for children’s spiritual growth and development.
Jesus as a preacher and a teacher
He always gives importance on children in the kingdom of God explaining some parables in Matthew 18: 1-4 that unless you become like a child, you can’t enter the kingdom of God. Yes, we must agree that it’s easier to tame and train young cubs than to straighten the branch of an old tree or pull a deeply rooted tree from the ground.
On anti-Christmas Christians
There were few movies like “the Grinch” which has the story line about how an individual could possibly hate Christmas day because it reminds him of his dark past. Well, friends these individuals need our care, attention and we must share to them the goodness of Christ in our lives. We must remind them that Christmas is not just the merriment or good things we expected because like in my country, there are many families, who celebrated their Christmas with a bitter heart, of pain, of suffering due to unexpected death, calamities,and poverty. These people need our love. But, how about those Christians who simply don’t celebrate it due to their different doctrinal interpretation of the bible? Do we also have to share to them? Yes. We must. Let us not fret. Jesus prayed, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. Righteous father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them and will continue to make you known inorder that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them”. (John 16:24-25)
Finally, the Holy Spirit led me to read this passage in John 15:18- 25 “Jesus spoke to the disciples, ‘If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than the master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me, hates my father as well. If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfil what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.”