Luke 2:1-12 – “Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. 2 This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, 5 in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. 6 While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, ” Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” NASU
Christmas is one of the most, if not the most exciting time of the year for many people. This time of the year there is a visible change in attitudes and activities usually beginning around the 1st week of December. Some of the changes are real and some are nothing more than facades, but many people begin to speak and act in a “Christmassy Manner.” It is truly a wonderful time of the year. Yet, there are so many arguments as to when Christmas really is, some become disillusioned, disheartened, and diverted from the season and its reason. It is not always easy for the earnest inquirer to determine exactly WHEN IT IS CHRISTMAS! Thus, my question, “How Do We Know When It Is Christmas?”
ACCORDING, TO OUR TRADITION – We determine that it is Christmas by the CALENDAR.
December 25th is Christmas according to the calendar. It is printed in bright red letters on most calendars and this date is recognized as Christmas. Many of us reserve a special place in our hearts on this date to celebrate the Birth of Our Savior, Jesus Christ and we let the greeting MERRY CHRISTMAS ring! But, is December 25th Christmas? I am not interested in engaging in a debate as to the specific date of Christ’s birth in that question but simply asking is that Christmas? Somehow, the date alone seems insufficient to make it Christmas!
ACCORDING TO OUR GOVERNMENT – We are told that the legal holiday for Christmas is December 25th.
Various amounts of time are allotted for holiday time off or vacation. Most stores and places of business close their doors on that date and the festivities which transpire tell us that it is Christmas. But, is that alone sufficient to truly identify when it is Christmas? Is free time, parties, banquets, and festivities the true indicator of when Christmas comes? Somehow, that seems to be lacking in truly identifying Christmas.
BASED ON COMMERCIALISM – We would think it is from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.
The business world, even before Thanksgiving begins its push to market Christmas and we begin to see evidence of the Season in the stores, streets, and shops. Trees are decorated, lights hung, tinsel streamers are visible, and wrapped presents visible. We know that there is a change in the season upon us. Each day we are informed of how many shopping days left until Christmas, all designed to enable us to accurately calculate when it’s Christmas. But, are the decorations, advertising, slogans, jingles, sales, promotions, etc. a true indicator of when it is Christmas?
DO WE KNOW IT’S CHRISTMAS THROUGH PEOPLE?
As we enter the final month of the year, increasingly people greet us with MERRY CHRISTMAS, or as the Politically Correct world would prefer we hear HAPPY HOLIDAYS or SEASONS GREETINGS instead. We will see smiles where frowns have been the norm and a more charitable and caring attitude. But, if this is our guide could they not do the same in July, October, or February and fool us? Does a simple greeting make it Christmas?
IS RELIGION OUR GUIDE TO KNOWING WHEN IT IS CHRISTMAS?
Tragically, there is much difference of opinion and even dissension within Christendom over Christmas we are sometimes drawn away from the Reason for the Season with hairsplitting and theological or genealogical arguments it loses its luster. Yet, even if we all agreed as to the time and place would that truly make it Christmas?
Thus, I come back to my original question, “How Do We Know When It’s Christmas?” I am not going to give you my answer to that question today so you will have to stay tuned for the next devotional to hear my response. However, I truly pray that you embrace the Reason for the Season and let the Joy of Christ flood your hearts and allow that which makes Christmas Merry flood your being.
God, bless you is my prayer and desire! MERRY CHRISTMAS!