“Christmas is coming...

...the geese are getting fat.   Please to put a penny in the old man's hat; if you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do, if you haven't got a ha'penny then God bless you!”

Christmas, more than any other time of the year, highlights the disparity between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’. Average spend per family on Christmas lunch is apparently £135, roughly twice the amount Jobseekers have to survive on for a whole week.   And in makeshift camps on the borders of Turkey many thousands of people fleeing violence in Syria are cold, hungry and abandoned on the border of catastrophe, as aid agencies admit it’s too dangerous to provide relief.   

The origin of Christmas

So what’s the origin of Christmas?   Bible scholars differ widely on the time of year of Jesus’s birth, and it’s probable that when Constantine became the first ‘Christian’ emperor, Christianity settled on the pagan Roman festival of Saturnalia (17-25 December) as a popular time to mark his birth.   Thus 25th December became known as Christ’s Mass and later, Christmas, a holiday time and an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of choosing 25th December, one thing is certain, that God made no mistake in choosing the right time to send His only begotten Son into the world:

“...when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law that we might receive the adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:4)

The birth of Jesus

With the land of Palestine under the thrall of Rome, this was, like our own day, a time of extremes of wealth and poverty. God chose that His Son should be born by the power of the Holy Spirit in the humblest of surroundings to a young virgin, and that the glorious news of his birth should be first announced to shepherds sleeping rough in the fields around Bethlehem to keep their flocks from harm.

Luke records this miraculous event in well-loved and familiar words:

“And (Mary) brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.   Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.   And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and... said to them, ‘Do not be afraid for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.   For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:7-11)


The real meaning of Christmas

The real meaning of Christmas lies in the words of the angel who prophesied the birth of Jesus.   To Joseph he said:

“And (Mary) will bring forth a son, and you shall call his name JESUS, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

and then to Mary:

“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David.   And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 2:32-33)

In our troubled world, full of injustice and lurching from one crisis to the next these words contain two clear messages of hope and confidence.   First, that God did not make the world in vain.   It is His plan that one day soon a world-wide Kingdom of peace and righteousness will be established ruled over by His Son, the risen Lord Jesus Christ.

Secondly, God sent His Son into the world to be a perfect sacrifice for sins.   Jesus lived a perfect and sinless life and therefore did not deserve to die but he willingly suffered and died on the cross so that all who believe on him might have the hope of everlasting life in the coming Kingdom.

So at this Christmas time let us remember those less fortunate than ourselves and help them as much as we can.   Let us also put on the saving name of Jesus by being baptised, and look forward with real hope in our hearts to the time when Jesus will be in the earth again. Then, God willing, we will see him face to face and share with him in the glories of the Kingdom of God on earth for evermore! 



Contact usIf you want to comment on this article or have a question relating to it.