Title: Why We Celebrate Christmas
Text: Luke 1:26-39
(In the land of Judea (formerly called Judah, and now known as the country of Israel), at this point in history, the Roman Empire ruled the known world, but the Jews faithfully waited for the promised Messiah, or God’s anointed Savior, to be made revealed. 200 years have passed since the Jews returned to the Promised Land and rebuilt Jerusalem and its Temple, but they were still under the rule of another conquering empire. It is at this time in history God chooses to introduce His Son through the birth of a baby named Jesus, just as it was promised in the Scriptures that the people of God read and prayed over daily. In this passage, a young girl named Mary is greeted by God’s angel to tell her that was being chosen by God to give birth to God’s unique and special Son.)
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s (Mary’s older cousin, or more like an aunt) pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin (young unmarried girl) engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary.
Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her: Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty. Beautiful inside and out! God be with you.
She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that.
But the angel assured her, “Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus. He will be great, be called ‘Son of the Highest.’ The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David; He will rule Jacob’s house forever—no end, ever, to his kingdom.”
Mary said to the angel, “But how? I’ve never slept with a man.”
The angel answered, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Highest hover over you; therefore, the child you bring to birth will be called Holy, Son of God.
“And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren, and here she is six months’ pregnant!
Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.”
And Mary said, Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say.
Then the angel left her.
Truth: Christmas is a time of celebration to express our thanks to God for the greatest gift the world has ever known, the birth of His special and unique Son, JESUS. This is the one gift that requires no batteries, and can be shared without the risk of it being broken or lost. It is the gift that keeps giving joy, peace and love year after year after year. It is a gift for young kids and adults too! There is no age limit to receive this gift.
Application: Christmas makes Easter possible. The word Christmas comes from the old church long ago celebrating “Christ Mass” or, a special worship service for the people, or masses, to worship and honor Christ. The early church, about 1800 years ago, wanted to teach about the birth of Christ to the people and give them understanding about who Jesus was and how He was such a gift of love from God. You see, at this time there were no books like we have today, not even the Bible we know today, available to the people. The church presented the message of God to the people through daily services called “Masses,” or gathering of the masses of people. It was at this time, the church decided to identify December 25th as the time to celebrate the Christ Mass because in their culture, they already celebrated an annual winter festival. So the church added the Christ Mass to the festivities to have a more special meaning that focused on the birth of Jesus. In time, the Christ Mass became known as “Christmas.”
Looking back in the Bible, it is important to understand the role of Mary in this story. She was chosen by God because of her pure heart and her family tree was important to God’s purpose and plan for all of His people, including you and I today. She also was promised in marriage to a righteous and good man who also had a good family tree that suited God’s purpose. God sent His #1 angel, Gabriel, to comfort and explain to Mary what was going to happen through her. Gabriel revealed that she would become the mother of God’s unique Son and she would name Him, Jesus.
Why was it important to mention her status as a young unmarried girl? Well, God is always good on fulfilling His Word (His promises) to us. In Isaiah 7:14 we learn of God’s sign to His people about a Savior to be born to a virgin, or young maiden. In Matthew’s birth account it quotes this passage as a fulfillment of the promise. Isaiah 9:6 pointed to Jesus as being born to the world as a gift with a specific purpose and title, “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”
If you can believe and celebrate God’s story of His promised Son, He was born into this world as a gift from God, then you can take His Word (the Bible) to be true in other ways as well. As Gabriel shared with Mary, “with God nothing is impossible!” If He can choose to have His Son born into this world, can God have His Son enter into your heart as well? Once you believe the truth about Jesus, you will find God’s special gift for you this and every Christmas is the peace, hope and love of Jesus will be in your heart all year long.
I pray each of you will declare the same statement to God as Mary proclaimed: “Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s young servant, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say.” (For your benefit I changed the word for maid to young servant, but the meaning is the same).
Never forget that Christmas is really meant to be a Christ Mass, or a gathering to share the story of Jesus, God’s love gift to all the World!
More to come about Christmas…