What is Christmas? It is the celebration of Christ! And that is exactly what the word means! When? We celebrate the birth of our Lord on December 25. While there is no command in all scripture to do so, neither is there any where in scripture that forbids it. Where do we celebrate this holy day? In churches and homes, in hospitals, in nursing homes, even in the jails and prisons, Christmas is even celebrated on the battlefield. Typically most churches will have Christmas Eve services, depending on the church the times may vary, I have been to candlelight services as early as 7:00pm and the last several years I have attended a service that does not start until 11:00 pm. I am sure you could find one that suits your schedule! Why? Is actually a two fold question- Why do we celebrate the birth of Christ when we were never commanded to do so and why on Dec 25 when that is not the date that Jesus was born ( likely not anyway)
I am going to do this backwards and tackle the hard one first- Why Dec 25? Well first of all, Christmas was not even celebrated until about the fourth century A.D. It was in the fourth century, four hundred years after the birth of Christ that Pope Julius I made Dec 25 the official date that Christ birth would be celebrated. Why, of all the dates , would Pope Julius pick Dec 25? Well, he was probably thinking that this celebration would fit right in with some other celebration that occurred during this time, yes those celebrations were pagan festivals that had been celebrated, probably for centuries before Christ was born. Dec 25 was considered the birthday of the sun( and now it is when we celebrate the birthday of the Son!) This was recognized as the winter solstice the days begin getting longer on this date. This was also the date of a Roman festival that celebrated the birthday of the pagan god Sol Invictus or unconquered Sun. Also this date was considered the birthday of a god called Mirtha, who was the sun-god of the ancient Persians, which was popular with the Roman Soldiers. While this date may be tied to the pagan’s worship of sun gods, for the Christian it is not about the sun but about the One who created the sun! Which brings me to the question of why should we celebrate the birth of Christ? Should we not honor the One that sacrificed Himself, willingly on the cross, because it we that have sinned? His gift to us , the atonement for our sins He became the sacrificial Lamb , He died that we would have Life and is that not what Jesus was all about – life? That we might have life and have it abundantly? While Jesus is eternal and pre existed with the God the Father and the Holy Spirit, it is His physical birth that we celebrate that birth that was planned from the moment man fell into sin in the Garden of Eden. Our Redeemer, Savior, became our Immanuel (God with us) became one of us – to save us from our sins. Does not the birth of such a One deserve our honor? We celebrate His death because He commanded us to. We celebrate His birth because we want to! And I have decided to start writing the word as Christ Mass rather than as Christmas- just makes more sense to me so Have a very Merry Christ Mass!!