Isaiah - 7: 14 - ‘Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.’
Over 2 billion people celebrate December 25 as Christmas - supposedly, the birthday of Christ. Every human being living in Christendom, in the Western World, is influenced in some way by the Christmas period - unless, of course, one is living in a cave far in some distant jungle.
Some persons reject Christmas seeing it as the most commercialized period of any age. Many, caught up in the frenzy, spend what they do not have. As one preacher puts it, it is no longer no room in the inn, but it is now no room in the parking lot at the mall.
For others, Christmas is sorrel and fruitcakes with or without alcohol or family get-togethers, or gifts and parties and Santa-clauses. For many, there is little reflection on the beautiful impossibility of the virgin birth, made possible, and what it must have been for Mary in her virgin innocence to understand the miracle that she carried. For the person of faith, growing within her was our salvation, our Christmas. Did she fully understand that within the confines of her womb was Immanuel ‘God with us’ that her baby was divinity and humanity entangled in unison for the purpose of the salvation of humankind?
It is a good time to use the period to minister to the needs of others (as we should always be doing) and certainly to ponder the reality, the mystery, the sublime fact, that divinity could so transform Himself to the lowly state of humanity. For us believers, people of faith, that Chris was born, we are certain, that he is God we know, that He is our Saviour and Redeemer we bless Him, and that He shall return riding the glorious clouds of Heaven, we look forward.
However, for the growing number of the sceptics, atheist and non-believers, in an increasingly secular world, all of this is mere mumbo-jumbo - statements of religious fanatics - a tale told by idiots, ‘ full of sound and fury, signifying nothing’ but the unfortunate stupidity of those who hold on to these ideas.
For the believer, the celebration of the birth of Christ is the direct fulfilment of Bible prophecy. The believer will point to numerous prophecies in Old Testament, and this, for this person, authenticates , the birth, resurrection, ascension and second coming. For the believer, in one, singular person, the God Man, all the prophecies converge. For the person of faith, this proves the authenticity of the Bible. Off-course, for the secularist and atheist, this is pure nonsense.
For the astute Christian, the birth of Christ, allows us to scrutinize his life and in that life, to see a revelation of God. He became one of us, so we could truly know God.
For the person of faith, who takes Christmas as a fact, the event makes the Bible meaningful, allows us to have glimpses of God, and paves the way for forgiveness of sins and for prayers to be answered.
The Christmas event, the core of the Christianity, causes us to consider what it means, to quote Orlando Patterson’s - Freedom in the Making of Western Culture, ‘that spiritually, the son of God made himself incarnate, then gave his life in order to redeem mankind from spiritual enslavement and to make people free and equal before God.’
Placed in its proper perspective, Christmas provides for us an occasion to find answers to life’s most vexing questions: why was I born? What will happen to me when I die? What is the meaning of my existence? Why is there pain and suffering in the world? Etcetera.
For all, I wish a true experience of Christmas. For believers, I pray that as you accept Christ anew, that upon you will shine a light as bright as the one which shone upon those shepherds as they watched their flocks by night. For the non-believer, may the period provide contemplation and silence, and even, maybe, a sense of God.