It’s strange how easily the most wonderful time of the year can simply become the busiest season of all. It’s as if we trade in the sacred for the mundane by focusing more on gifts and festivities.
As a Christian community, we really should not get lost in the hype of holiday shopping and lose sight of what is central to the story of Christmas: Jesus. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling for an all-out boycott on holiday shopping on grounds that Jesus was not born on December 25 nor am I announcing a silly campaign claiming there is a “war on Christmas” because some cross out Christ from Christmas by abbreviating it Xmas. Technically, the Greek letter chi (X) is the first letter of Christ (Χριστός) and “mas” is shorthand for mass, which together signal the midnight mass of Christ (Cristes Maesse in Old English) originating in 1038.
Instead, I think it’s time we take back Christmas by allowing the story of the nativity to guide our everyday lives year-round and not just become a one-day festival of consumerism.
Central to the celebration of Christmas should be our reflection on the birth of Christ, which was the most world-changing event of history. The day Jesus was conceived in Mary’s womb was the day God became Immanuel. Matthew 1:23 states: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us).”
Of all the central truths of the gospel, this is one of the most awe-filled revelations. Nothing in any other religion compares to the idea that God would become human to share in our joys and sufferings. While in some ways the incarnation of Christ is an incomprehensible mystery with regard to the complexity of fully grasping the nature of Jesus in his full humanity and divinity, it is at the same time the lynchpin for understanding a God who demonstrates his love for us by sending his Son
No longer can anyone say: “God does not understand what I’m going through.” And this is not simply God’s omniscient knowledge of our condition, but rather an experiential understanding of our reality. Jesus experienced the ridicule of being considered an illegitimate son. He lost his adoptive father in his late teens or early adulthood. He grieved the loss of friends like Lazarus and had to say goodbye to his mother while hanging on a cross suffering an unjust sentence of capital punishment.
His life and death mark his identification with our plight, pain and sorrows. But, more importantly, he assumed our humanity in order to fix the root problem of sin, which is the main cause behind suffering, injustice and death. On the cross, he triumphed over our pain, sickness and sin, but this was only possible on account of his incarnation.
Thus, Christmas time is a reason to celebrate on account of the greatest gift to humanity: Jesus!
We wish you a Merry Christmas from everyone here at Grand Canyon University and the College of Theology. Learn more about us by visiting our website or clicking the Request More Information button.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.