Jeff Lukens
December 12, 2006
Remembering why we celebrate Christmas
By Jeff Lukens

It's that time of year again. Yes, it's time for the flurry of shopping malls, office parties, house parties, presents, laughter and good cheer, decorations, too much food, Frosty, Santa, and reindeer.

Meanwhile, it's the annual "December dilemma" for public officials on how celebrate a religious holiday without being sued by the ACLU. Gee, talk about Grinch. The secularist campaign to remove Christ from Christmas, and any religious reference of the holiday from public schools, parks, libraries, and government buildings is about as jolly as a cup of sour eggnog. In recent years, they even tried to stop children from saying "Merry Christmas" at school.

While Christmas is celebrated in the vast majority of homes across America, it seems the meaning of the holiday is often misunderstood. So, let's think what Christ-mas is about for a moment.

The intent of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of a special child, Jesus Christ, into this world. The world has been a much better place since he was born in Bethlehem on that day long ago. The life, and death, of Jesus altered the course of history more than any other person who has ever lived.

On an earthly level, his service to humanity has been a great leap forward that reverberates to this day. While he has been a leading inspiration for advancements in Western culture, in science, in medicine, and in the arts, we also know Jesus as the greatest social reformer ever to walk the earth. Before his birth, the world had little compassion for women, the sick, the lame, the elderly, or for human life in general. His revelation that all people are equal before God, and that all people have basic God-given rights and freedoms, were major reasons for the founding of democracy.

On a personal level, his life enriches us today, and tells us death is not the end. His inspiration leads us to act beyond our own self-interest. His message of faith, love, and compassion will forever challenge us in our strength and comfort us in our weakness.

It is interesting to note that God foretold his plan for humanity through the Hebrew prophets hundreds of years before Jesus was born. Isaiah, for one, wrote, "The Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. . . . For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. . . . But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed."

And as it was prophesied, so it happened. By giving his son, we know God loves us, and we can have a relationship with the Maker of all Creation. It means we can be forgiven of our sins, no matter what they are, and start a new life. While his grace is given to us simply by asking for it, he also gives us free will. It is still our choice whether or not to accept his offer.

Through all the frenzy of the holiday season, Christmas is about the presence of Jesus Christ in our lives. It is the celebration of His birth the gift of God to all people. When the presents under your tree are unwrapped, come share the joy and comfort of this special gift in a church near you.

© Jeff Lukens

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