We talk about Christmas being a holiday. But do you know where the word “holiday” comes from? It’s a contraction of two words: “Holy Day.” The Christmas holiday is meant to be a holy day. It’s a day set aside for a specific purpose… to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
The Christmas season is not just a month-long party; it’s a party in recognition of a specific event—the birth of Jesus.
There are a lot of fun aspects to our annual celebration of Christmas, including Santa, Rudolph, parades, gift-giving, candy cane ice cream and grandmother’s getting run over by reindeer. All of that is fine and can add to the season. But there is the danger of those kinds of things overshadowing and replacing what Christmas is really about.
If you go out on the street and ask people what Christmas is about, you will get a variety of answers. You will be told that it’s about presents, it’s about family, or it’s about the lights, decorations and carols. Many people will tell you it’s about the children. And yes, there will be a few grumps who will tell you it’s about consumerism and we ‘d be better off if we did away with the whole thing.
But while all of that can be part of Christmas, they are not what Christmas is really about. It’s about an event that took place in the Judean town of Bethlehem just a little over 2000 years ago.
(No, Jesus was probably not born on December 25. But since we do not know the actual date of His birth, December 25 is the date set aside as a holy day to celebrate His birth.)
Look at the word “Christmas.” What does it mean? Just as “holiday” comes from “holy day,” “Christmas” comes from “Christ’s Mass.” It’s all about Jesus Christ.
So amidst all the other trappings, how do you keep the birth of Jesus central to your holiday?
Attending a worship service at your local church is a good step. Do not allow all the busyness associated with Christmas to push Jesus aside on the day of the week His Church gathers to worship Him.
There are Christmas Eve services, too. If your church has one, be there. If you do not attend a church, find one to attend even for that one night.
You can also take time on your own to read through the Christmas story in the Bible. Read about the birth of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew chapters one and two, or the Gospel of Luke chapters one and two. Go to BibleGateway.com and select the “New Living Translation” or the “New International Version” of the Bible.
Then pay attention to the Christmas carols you hear everywhere you go. A lot of them remind us that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus.
But why is the birth of Jesus even important? To answer that, take a look at what an angel from God told Joseph (who would go on to raise Jesus as his own son).
“Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21, NLT)
We do not continue to celebrate Christmas after 2000 years just because a baby was born. That’d be pretty ridiculous. No, we celebrate it because that baby was the Messiah, God in the flesh, who came to rescue us from sin and death. That’s a pretty good reason to celebrate and to remember what Christmas is really about, don’t you think?
Will you remember to keep Jesus central to your celebration of Christmas this year? If you want this Christmas to matter in your home and in your life, you’ll keep Jesus central.