One may ask, “Why these attacks against this Christian Festival”? They are not without reason. A close scrutiny will show that the remote cause of the attacks lie in with the Christians themselves – due to the lack of understanding about what the true meaning of Christmas is. A lot of commercialisation and recklessness have been associated. Many are just following the tradition not knowing the real reason for the season – Jesus. The way we celebrate Christmas today does not reflect the true purpose any more.
WHAT IS CHRISTMAS?
The first mention of December 25th as Christmas dated back to the time of Emperor Constantine in Rome – AD 325. It was chosen to replace two pagan festivals (the Yuletide and Sol Evictus). The two pagan festivals were taken over by the Church. It was tagged as CHRIST’S MASS (a mass to mark the birth of Christmas). A lot of Christians today were pagans too before they were converted from the paganism to Christianity. I therefore see nothing bad in the Church taking over pagan festivals and converting it for the Lord. The date is not in the Bible and there is no need for any useless controversy over this. Whether December, October or January, what matters most is the PURPOSE and MODE of the celebration. A Saviour was born! Once the Church has universally adopted this date for the marking of Christ’s birth, it has remained a period of joy and it is unique worldwide.
When did the celebration of Christmas start and what is now making it offensive or politically incorrect? This is a million dollar question and a great challenge to all the Christians not only in the United Kingdom but worldwide
The Christmas period “marks” the “birth of Christ” to Christians, a celebration of the period, immemorial, when the only begotten Son of God who came into this World to set mankind free from the Adamic nature, to restore the joy that was stolen by the devil thereby giving those that believe in Him life in abundance. John10:10. The birth was prophesised by prophet Isaiah, it was announced by angel Gabriel. It can mean anything else, to others (it can even mark their personal birthdays) and they can celebrate it the way they want. But for Christians throughout the world and even some non-Christians, it is a period of joy, love and peace; even the atmosphere is specially charged and ordained. It marks a period when joy came into the world and there is nothing anybody can do about it. Change the name to anything, the associated joy, love and peace, can never be removed.
Christmas is said to be the most widely celebrated festivity. Different people from different parts of the World celebrate Christmas differently depending on what it means to the individual or group of individuals. To some people Christmas is the time to feast, from November onwards it is impossible to forget that Christmas is around the corner; at least in the Western World due to coloured lights, decoration and trees displayed in town centres, shops and homes with shopping malls filled to or beyond their capacities. Some see it as a period of exchanging gifts and greeting cards and shopping.
To some, especially the believers it another opportunity to reflect on all that the Messiah has done for them– Salvation of their soul and right of Sonship. They are full of appreciation and gratitude to Him.
Christmas is a period when love came down and God’s greatest gift was given. Christ is the perfect symbol of God’s authentic love. But you’ve got to open the door and receive the Christmas gift.”
If you gave me a Christmas gift and I never opened it, you would be disappointed. And it would be a worthless to me because I can never receive the benefit of a gift I never opened. Jesus Christ is God’s Christmas gift to you. Yet some of us have gone Christmas after Christmas and never opened the best gift of all – God’s gift of salvation. Why even celebrate Christmas if you’re not going to open the biggest gift? It doesn’t make sense to leave unwrapped the gift of your past forgiven, a purpose for living, and a home in heaven.
Christmas is also the perfect time to show grace to other people because we’re reminded of the grace God has shown us – that he gives us what we need, not what we deserve. So let me ask you a very frank question: Who do you need to restore a broken relationship with this Christmas? The greatest need in our world is reconciliation – at work, at home, at school or among the nations. Building people up, not tearing them down. Complimenting more than you criticize and loving people the way Jesus loves people. That’s the spirit of Christmas – “peace on earth, good will toward men.”
Every faith in the United Kingdom should be allowed to practice their faith without suppressing and intimidating the others. If anybody wants decorations, they can design theirs. If they want “carols”, they can compose, no one is disturbing them. They can go ahead without any exhibition of envy, jealousy or intimidation of hate-mongers.
Christians too should wake up and show the world the correct purpose of Christmas. We should let the world know that this period is not only for socials, eating, drinking, shopping, exchange of gifts etc., but a period of reflecting on God’s greatest gift to the world – Jesus Christ – who came to save the world and reconcile us back to God. We should not allow the world’s view overtake our lives. It involves getting more committed and involves some personal sacrifice by reflecting God’s authentic love in our lives. It is a unique season all over the world for sharing the good news about the greatest birth and for sharing God’s love that came down at Christ’s birth.
Remove Christ from Christmas; what is left is mess and emptiness. For you to have a meaningful celebration there must be a thoughtful appreciation of this ultimate gift that changed the history of the world. It is a season to rededicate our lives as living sacrifice for Christ who is the reason for the season. I therefore encourage all Christians to be more aware their responsibility and face the challenge as one of the signs of the end time and stand fast in the faith, encouraging the weak and backsliding ones. Just remain faithful and brighten the corner where you are as worthy ambassadors of Christ following in his footsteps as we patiently await His second coming and face the year 2012.
Pastor Ebenezer Olufemi Mogaji
This article represents personal opinion of Pastor Mogaji. Reactions and comments can be sent to him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org