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“Someone told me that Jesus probably wasn’t born on Dec. 25. If that is true, is it wrong to celebrate his birth on that day?”— Linda
The Bible doesn’t give us a date nor mention a celebration of his birthday in the early church. Two gospels (Matt. 1:18-2:12; Luke 1:26-2:20) provide only minimal birth accounts.
The Christmas holiday we observe today is a relatively recent (19th century) development. It largely represents efforts by the church over the centuries to co-opt a smattering of pagan holidays and their trappings.
Scripture does emphasize incarnation, God becoming man (Jn. 1:14; Gal. 4:4; Phil. 2:5-8; Col. 1:15-20; I Tim. 3:16; Heb. 2:14-18; I Jn. 4:2).
Taking a particular time of the year to reflect on this truth in a focused fashion is a good thing, the hijacking of the holiday by consumerism notwithstanding.
The ecclesiastical accoutrements (Advent, carols, decorations, special worship services, etc.) help us grasp a bit more fully the mystery and wonder of “Immanu-el” — which means “God with us.”
The issue is not so much which day we identify as the day to celebrate. The issue is what difference it makes in our lives.
Do those of us who believe in his incarnation live in such a way that he is seen in our words and actions? Have we been transformed by this incomprehensible and unconditional love of God (Jn. 3:16) to such a degree that we reflect it to others throughout the year?
We debate a great deal with a culture that has largely secularized Christmas. We argue over “correct” holiday greetings and public displays of religious symbols. We could do with less of that and practice giving more grace and peace.
We would do a better job of “keeping Christ in Christmas” if we exercised generosity and kindness all year long.