Friday, December 25, 2015

365 Project - Day 359 - "The True Meaning of Christmas"


December 25, 2015 - "The True Meaning of Christmas"

What is the true meaning of Christmas?

Years ago I saw a sign in someone's yard which - in very large letters - said: "On December 25, 0000 Jesus was born so he could die for YOUR sins. Keep Christ in Christmas".

I looked at the sign and laughed hysterically. For someone to actually believe that the date of Jesus' birth was "December 25, 0000" was just too funny to me - especially the year "0000" part. Yes, there are many reasons why the Church declared "December 25th" to be the date of the birth of Jesus - but I'm not going to get into that.

I happen to be Catholic, and for the last few years I've been trying to convince my fellow Christians that it's far more important to put the "Christ" back in "Christian" than it is to worry about keeping "Christ" in "Christmas". I still do believe that... as it pains me to see so many people who proclaim themselves to be "Christian" to be so publicly living a life that is very un-"Christ-like".

That being said, last night as I sat in Church staring at both the Nativity set out by the altar and the large Crucifix behind it I suddenly came to the realization that the two are inseparable, and there really IS something to the whole thought that we should "Keep Christ in Christmas". I couldn't quite pin "why" I was having those thoughts... it just sort of, well, "happened". Then, following the Gospel reading, Fr. Shawn began his sermon. During that sermon he happened to mention both the wooden manger upon which the newborn Jesus lay... and the wooden cross upon which Jesus died.

The story of the Nativity is found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke... yet I don't think the true story of what we now call "Christmas" can be told completely without the Gospel According to John.

We all know the line by now... John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." That verse of the Bible is everywhere. You can even order checks that have it written on them.

The Gospels of Matthew and Luke may tell us the story of "how" the birth of Jesus occurred... but the Gospel of John takes us a step further and tells us the reason "why" the birth of Jesus occurred.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."

Lets take that down a bit...

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son"... that we might "have eternal life".

Lets rephrase things a bit...

"God loved us so much that He gave to us His only Son so that, through Him, we might be saved and have eternal life."

To paraphrase it even more: "Jesus was born out of God's love for us all".

To cut THAT down yet again: "Jesus' birth = God's love".

So what is the TRUE meaning of Christmas?

That's simple... "Love".

Why?

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."

Whether it happened specifically on "December 25th" or whether it was some other day in the calendar is not what is important. What IS important is that Jesus was born out of God's love for us... that we might have a Savior.

That is the meaning of Christmas. From the "wood of the manger" to the "wood of the cross", Jesus' entire life was a gift of love... and today we celebrate that love.

So as I place my hand with those of those whom I love the most - my wife, my daughter and my son - I take a moment to celebrate the most beautiful gift we have ever been given... the gift of love.

I offer the gift of love to all of you... and wish you a very Merry Christmas.

(lifeisgood!)

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