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January 16, 2022 | Doug Sauder
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Perhaps you’re reading this and you have not stepped foot in a church for weeks, months, years, or maybe ever in your life. If that’s you, then keep reading because this article is for you.
There’s undoubtedly a lot of controversy and tension centered around the subject of church and Jesus—especially at Christmas. We’re not going to avoid that, but it should also be noted that there’s an undoubtedly greater openness to the message of Jesus at Christmastime, too. Hopefully, that’s why you’re here reading this article and contemplating coming to one of our services.
Before you decide whether or not you want to come, let’s actually review what this beloved holiday is all about. Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ who we believe is our Messiah, the Savior of the world, and the divine Son of God in the flesh. This is what we call the nativity story or “advent” which means arrival.
Although the Bible doesn’t actually mention a date for Jesus’ advent, Pope Julius I in the late fourth century, after the emperor Constantine began to legalize Christianity, instituted the celebration of His birth to take place annually on December 25. Since then, there have been many developments regarding various traditions and adaptations of the holiday, yet the thing that has never changed is the message behind it. The constancy of this message amidst these many changes and additions of traditions goes to show the beauty and truth within the message standing behind it. For this reason alone, it’s a message worth hearing at Christmastime.
Although everyone who celebrates Christmas doesn’t actually believe in the nativity story, there are many traditional songs that reflect on the story. If you’ve ever gone caroling and sang “Silent Night,” “Away in a Manger,” “The First Noel,” or “O Come Let Us Adore Him,” then you’ve sung about the nativity story. “Joy to the World” and “Little Drummer Boy” also describe it, while other songs focus more on the love and joy that comes through the gathering of family and friends.
Nonetheless, the origin of these Christmas themes of love, hope, peace, and joy stem from the gathering of family and friends to enjoy not only each other’s company, but also the hope of Christ’s birth which brings salvation. Even in songs that are not as explicitly directed towards the Christmas story, there are still many references to the hope felt through the season.
Not only does the message of Jesus present itself through songs, but this message is also sprinkled throughout many other traditions such as the Christmas tree, gift giving, and even Santa! Evergreen trees are representative of hope in many cultures apart from the institution of Christmas because they flourish and stay green year round. The hope obtained from the tree became a symbol for the hope of Jesus’ eternal gift to us through His birth, eventual death, and resurrection which secured our redemption from sin and reconciliation to God!
Not only does the message of Jesus present itself through songs, but this message is also sprinkled throughout many other traditions such as the Christmas tree, gift giving, and even Santa!
The tradition of giving gifts during Christmastime is also symbolic of the ultimate gift we receive through Christ’s birth. The legend of Santa Claus was also first inspired by a bishop in Myra, named Saint Nicholas, who lived during the early fourth century and was extremely generous to the people and children of Myra. He not only gave many gifts to children in Myra regularly, but he even sent some across the ocean to neighboring cities (Ligonier.org).
Although this story became a legend that some believe takes away from the true message of Jesus at Christmastime, understanding the history helps us realize that the inspiration and motivation behind many Christmas traditions we still hold today has always revolved around Christ! Maybe, then, taking some time this season to actually come see what this story is all about and why it means so much to so many will help you better enjoy Christmas with a new perspective.
Perhaps coming to church seems scary, uncomfortable, or even frustrating. Many people have been hurt by a church and even by so-called “Christians.” Many people have grown up believing something completely different than what the message of Christmas urges people to believe. Yet what most people don’t realize or tend to forget is that when Jesus was born, He was not born to a royal family, rather He was born to a carpenter and his fiancé in what we would consider to be a barn. When He was born, the angels didn’t appear to the upper echelon people declaring the good news, rather they appeared to some of the least acknowledged people on the social ladder—the forgotten and the insignificant—the shepherds.
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”—Luke 2:10–12 (NIV)
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”—Luke 2:14 (NIV)
The shepherds were the first outsiders to go see the long-awaited miracle child and, consequently, they were the first to go tell everyone about it.
Jesus came for you. He wants a real relationship with you.
If you choose to come to church this Christmas, we can assure you that you won’t feel out of place. Jesus came for all of us, even those of us who feel like nothing—especially those of us who feel like nothing. Jesus rescued us when we felt like nothing even though we didn’t deserve it. Jesus came for you. He wants a real relationship with you. We know that it can be hard and scary at times, but it’s the best relationship you will ever be in.
That’s why we believe a relationship with Jesus changes everything. It will bring you acceptance, belonging, identity, purpose, and eternal hope alongside a community of fellow believers who, though imperfect, get to come together and be the family of God, the church, here on earth as it is in heaven.
So, we invite and welcome you to come join us! There’s no judgement here; all are welcome. Regardless of whether you choose to believe or not, we hope you will come this Christmas and learn more about this amazing child!
Samy Rodriguez has been serving with the Calvary writing team since 2020 as a senior at Calvary Christian Academy. Before going to study communications, biblical studies, and intercultural studies at Palm Beach Atlantic University, she interned with the Calvary Communications Team and was a student leader in HSM (High School Ministry). She is passionate about communicating God’s Word and looks forward to continuing to serve in ministry after college.