One of the Sanders family Christmas traditions is to invite friends, strangers or others who do not have a place to be on Christmas day. One particular Christmas our son invited a Jewish friend to share her very first Christmas which she called the “Christian Celebration”.
I analysed each activity to find some parallel with the Christian belief and then decided that Christmas was not a bad thing of itself, but maybe it should be separated from the real celebration of Christmas.
Looking at scripture I find that nowhere are we asked to celebrate the birth of Christ; only his death. The Roman Emperor Constantine first introduced Christmas around 300 years after Jesus death so that Christians could celebrate their God, rather the pagan god Saturnalia.
We could argue about whether Christmas should or should not be celebrated, but it is probably one of Christendom’s greatest opportunities to truly witness to the world the existence and life of Christ. Our challenge as Christians then, is to put Christ into every element of the Christmas ritual and give it spiritual meaning.
Matthew 25: 31-46 tells of the second coming of Christ and the gathering of all the people to himself as he separates the sheep from the goats.
The criterion he uses is interesting. It is not because they swore or lied, stole or committed other sins. He separates them on the basis of their attitude toward those in need.
He rewarded those who:
Fed the hungry
Gave the thirsty water
Cared for the sick
Welcomed the stranger
Clothed the poor
Visited the imprisoned
Christmas is a great time to reach out and reflect the life and character of Christ. Our traditions, décor and Christmas rituals are just tools with which to demonstrate the love and grace of Christ to those around us.
By the measure you use in love and generosity of spirit this Christmas may it be it multiplied to you.