I CHOOSE CHRISTMAS!

13 12 2014

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Early in the history of the Christian Church, God’s people didn’t know exactly the specific month and day of the year that Jesus was born. Their best case guess was the spring time because shepherds would not be out watching their flocks by night in December. But since the believers already had a holy day in March and April of every year that celebrates the resurrection of Christ called Easter- a day that also is coordinated by when Passover is on the calendar- it only made sense to find a season later in the year that we could commemorate the birthday of our Savior!

No, the Bible does not tell us when Jesus was born and no, it doesn’t even command us to celebrate the birth of Jesus- but Scripture does make it clear where and how our Lord came from heaven to earth. And it is only right that if we celebrate our own birthdays- we might as well give Jesus his own party! But at what time of the year should it be?

Well lo and behold; it only took one glimpse at the ancient calendar to discover that the Romans already had their own pagan festival called Saturnalia. If you dissect Saturnalia, you will discover that it really has no substance whatsoever. It is much like most of the world’s parties in our present age- a chance to drink and indulge and do whatever one wants to in order to escape the drabness of everyday life. Saturnalia coincided with the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. It doesn’t take much to give in to the blues at this time of the year. When it gets dark at 3:30 in the afternoon, people become desperate for daylight. So Saturnalia was the provision of artificial happy substitutes that had no other purpose but to make the world go away and help everyone ignore the darkness. The only problem was you can’t rid darkness by engaging in uninhibited deeds of darkness. Saturnalia was a big bust when it came to making better the matters of the heart. Much like our culture’s practice of whooping it up on New Year’s Eve- all the problems and piles of dissatisfaction still remain once the ball drops and the bells and whistles end.

In the 4th Century, Christians decided to take the Winter Solstice captive to Christ. Believers began to dedicate December 25th to observing the birth of the one who was born the Light of the World. Christmas literally means the “Mass” or “Celebration” of the Christ. By keeping the focus on Jesus- the season now had a reason to actually be joyful. By faith in the one that God sent into the world to save his people from their sins, we got lots more than hangovers and social diseases! We were given an identity and a purpose and a brand new heart that featured a fresh renewed start because forgiveness meant God forgot and removed all of our wrongs! Now that’s something to go tell it on the mountain about! But what is both funny and sad is that our society is trying to edit Jesus from the holiday again. It wants to go back to a God free Saturnalia ruckus. But if you are willing to look at Christmas with your eyes wide open- gifts don’t mean that much if you haven’t received the greatest gift God has ever given. If the presents alone were enough to make the day awesome- then why is December 26th the biggest exchange day of the year? If you don’t know Jesus- then you have no hope for life. You can’t get a season to change what only the Savior will!

So please, if you won’t recognize Christ in the celebration- you really have no reason to wish me a Happy Holiday. There is no joy without my Lord. If he didn’t come, then where is this mess going? My faith is anchored in the reality that heaven must invade earth for miracles to happen. Without divine intervention, all we are left with is lots of chaos and noise and debt and darkness. We all need Christmas because that gives us a front row seat to God’s power intervening in man’s predicament! Because that baby came- sins get forgiven and people get purified. Nobodies become somebodies and people get a name. Outcasts get invited in and human lives are extended into eternity. Our disappointments become His appointments and the lost are found and the blind will see and the lame will walk and the dead will rise again! Nobody wins in Saturnalia! The only thing you receive in the Winter Solstice is a couple of hours a day but if you don’t like your life- it won’t do you much good! But Christmas means we have hope and peace and love and life! I don’t know what you are waiting for but I am banking on Christmas! And the Jesus who came some 2000 years ago to Bethlehem will one day come again and this I know- he is coming again for me! Do you have the same assurance? You won’t find that treasure at the mall! You must acknowledge the gift in the manger and in doing that- you discover Christmas!
Join us at The Lighthouse Church this weekend as we welcome special guest Laurie Polich Short who will be sharing from her new book “Faith in the Dark.” We meet Saturday at 6PM and Sunday at 9 and 10:45 AM and learn more at http://www.tlccma.org


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