Title: Who or What Are You Celebrating.
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Experts on calendars estimate that there are may be about forty calendars in use all over the world today. Although, none of these calendars is rated to be very correct and without error, most people people all over the world still regulate their activities in relation to days and months with the Gregorian Calendar which has a twelve month Calendar running from January to December. Though there is some disagreement with the choice of the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month on the Gregorian Calendar as the precise day on which Jesus Christ was born, early Christians chose to celebrate the birth of Christ on this day for reasons which may not necessarily be related to the birth of Jesus Christ with the day tagged Christmas day world-wide, with the word Christmas itself being a compound word consisting of “Christ” and “Mass”. It is implied that the day is expected to have a large gathering of people coming together to celebrate Jesus Christ.
Modern day celebration has however evolved into this celebration stretching into a season, sometimes starting from the beginning on the first day of the second month of the last quarter of the Gregorian Calendar called November. From this time of the Gregorian Calendar, many mementos which over the years have been associated with the celebration begin to appear in homes and commercial premises in addition to the airing several songs which have been composed over the years in celebration of this season. Of significance is the fact that despite the season being referred to as Christmas season and expected to be for adherents of the Christian faith, the celebration in modern times has extended and involved non-Christians alike with several people deliberately choosing that period of the Gregorian Calendar to arrange for holidays, landmark celebrations like weddings and other family gatherings. Several companies including those whose financial year does not run from January to December also choose to mark out that season as a period to assess performances and equally appreciate members of staff that have excelled over the twelve month period. In summary, it is generally a celebration period with many people in joyous mood and with huge positive impact on commercial activities as large amount of money continues to change hands. The impact of these activities on commerce is so much that over the years, the income of the Christmas season has become very significant as it contributes a major part of annual income of many businesses and so the season is highly anticipated by all.
With the exchange of gifts being a major highlight of the season, probably in following the act of the three wise men that brought gifts to Jesus and/or the act of gifting of Santa Claus who happens to be one of the several introductions to the celebration of Christmas, the commercial activity associated with the celebration of Christmas continues to grow annually with no sign of it abating. Although the Christian origin of the Santa Claus is subject to several debates, it has not stopped more people from generation to generation continuing to associate it with the celebration of Christmas with most people who claim to be celebrating Christmas having the image of Santa Claus as part of the decorations for Christmas but with no sign of the physical or spiritual presence of the supposed celebrant who is Jesus Christ and this calls into question who is or what is actually the centre of the annual celebration called Christmas.
Celebration is the act of acknowledging the significance of someone or an event. It implies that a landmark event occurred which was positive because if it was otherwise, the event will not be celebrated even though it will always be remembered. All celebrations are not really about the day but about the event that occured even though events occur at a point in time, so there will really be nothing to celebrate if there is no acknowledgement of a positive event. Again the question comes up which is, “who or what is being celebrated” at Christmas.
Most people may be quick to respond that the Jesus Christ is the one being celebrated and the celebration is the event of his birth, but such response will get any sane person confused if such is to examine and assess the whole preparation being made before and during the celebration of Christmas. Most if not all the mementos on sale during this season hardly have anything to do with Jesus Christ, his birth, his parents or the significance of his birth. Beyond some musical compositions and the attendance of brief services on that day, most activities associated with the season hardly involve the one in whose name the celebration was declared in the first place. New clothings are bought and exchanged, special meals like the popular Christmas Turkey are prepared with one wondering where the Turkey ever featured during the birth of Jesus Christ, office Christmas parties are held with no sign that an invitation was sent to or that the one in whose name the celebration was declared is in attendance and more significantly, the bulk of the people claiming to celebrate the season do not even know who the celebrant is or what he represents. Where the personality and what the main celebrants is known most people celebrating do not believe or accept the basis of the celebration and all these puts a question mark on the claim that they are massing together to celebrate Jesus Christ or the reason of his birth despite their being in festive mood.
Even those who carry the tag of being Christians hardly have time for the celebrant during all the activities associated with the celebration. This is not to say that an individual cannot decide on what he/she wants to do during a season that has come to be acknowledged world-wide as Christmas season or the specific day ear-marked for the celebration for that matter but such should be clear about who or what is being celebrated. It is simply not possible to celebrate someone who one does not know or acknowledge in anyway or someone whose actions have no significance or effect in any way on one’s life. With the image of Santa Claus littering every location of Christmas celebration, it may not be too long before that image is presented as the Jesus Christ that is being celebrated.
The coming of Jesus Christ is a planned action of the Almighty God to save man from the effect of sin. The birth of Jesus Christ was the beginning of a series of events, arranged by the Almighty God, to restore man back to the Garden of Eden state and thus save man from the destiny of spending eternity in hell. Whoever desires to celebrate Jesus Christ must believe in this divine plan and acknowledge the significance of such an action on his/her life or at least on mankind even if he/she chooses not to benefit from the act. The joy becomes more though, if such is able to visualise what he/she was able to escape from with the series of events that started with the birth of Jesus Christ into the world. Such individual will only have that assurance because he/she would have accepted him as Lord and Saviour. It is simply not possible to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ when there is nothing to gain from his coming. The enthusiasm shown by all, Christians and non-Christians alike does not however suggest that majority of people who do not believe in the reason for his birth are gaining nothing which is their own reason for celebrating.
It will therefore be wrong to say that non-Christians who celebrate Christmas have nothing to gain as most people have major financial gains and other earthly rewards for celebrating Christmas and so eagerly look forward to this season. This is in no way negative either except that just as they are able to define their motives and are clear about it, it is not allowed for the Christian who also has a right to this earthly rewards to make those rewards the major reason for the celebration. For some people, they celebrate Jesus Christ because they acknowledge his greatness but there is no evidence that they intend to benefit from his gift of salvation. To this group belong the shepherds who indeed came to him but with no evidence that they came to worship. They simply came to acknowledge his greatness and arrival into the world – Lk. 2:15-18. There is however the group that those who are genuinely celebrating Christmas should belong to and that is the group of wise men. The Bible records that they told Herod that they saw his star from East and they have come to WORSHIP him – Matt. 2:2. They did not stop there as the Bible notes that they opened their treasures and gave him gifts. This is who genuine celebrants of Christmas are and what they do. They are true worshippers of him and in celebrating him, they gave him gifts. The gifts were not given to themselves like people do today in a manner that seems they are celebrating themselves. Jesus Christ may not be physically present today but he left a church that represents his interest. It is the celebrants that receives gifts and not those celebrating gifting one another. If indeed you are celebrating Christmas, how much do you know of the celebrant and the reason for his birth and if indeed you are celebrating him, where is your gift for him? It will definitely not be those ones that you shared amongst your friends, staff or family members. It may be acceptable if the gifts were for the windows, orphans and poor and needy. This does not eliminate the act of gifting one another but it must be borne in the minds of those massing together in the name of Jesus that Jesus is indeed the reason for the celebration.
Those genuinely celebrating Christmas will not celebrate without the celebrant around. The wise men would never have opened their treasures if they had not seen the baby Jesus, after all they were at the palace of Herod and did not give any indication that they had gifts on them. Although he cannot be physically present, ensuring that he is spiritually present is very important because there can be no genuine and recognised celebration when he is absent.
Likewise those genuinely celebranting do everything that every one who claims to be celebrating is doing and also have a right to profit from the celebration of Christmas but beyond all these is the assurance that they have the biggest reward of all which is the grace of being saved from the impending destruction that awaits the unbeliever on the last day. To access this great reward, the individual must believe that he dropped his divinity and came into the world as man, was crucified, he died and ressurected, he ascended into heaven and he is coming back to judge the world and take his own people with him. That is what those genuinely celebrating him believe and that is what they are celebrating. Deliverance from the weight of sin and restoration of the lost glory. That is the significant event that is being celebrated. The event that marks the arrival of the Saviour of the world to come and commence the divine plan of restoration of man. Assure yourself of being a beneficiary of this divine intention and it is only then that your celebration of Christmas will have a meaning.
Merry Christmas celebration to all and Happy New Year in advance. May the celebration be eternal in Jesus name. Amen.