December 1st, 2018

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
 
As Christmas approaches I have been thinking of how it was when I was a young boy. It was a time when our family came from far and near. It was a time to be with my cousins and nephews whom I had not seen for a year. It was a time to be with my aunts and uncles, help grandma make cookies and grandpa would sit and tell us stories. It was a good time to reflect back on God’s blessings and also sad to remember the people who were not with us. It was a time to remember the past family gatherings. I do miss those times as I have grown older but still have a family to celebrate. At Christmas, I do wish that all of us could get back together. I know one day we will because of Jesus.
 
As I was pondering how Christmas got started in history, I came across some interesting information that I would like to share with you.
 
Christmas was not celebrated till after biblical times. The early Christians of the New Testament church celebrated the resurrection (Easter) but not the birth of Jesus Christ. In fact Christmas was not given any kind of official recognition by the church until the middle of the 5th century.
 
The reason for this was so many Christmas customs seen to have roots in paganism. They were resistant to some of the rituals of the holiday. The puritans in early American rejected Christmas celebrations altogether. They even deliberately worked on Christmas day to make a point. There was a law passed in England in 1644 that Christmas day was an official working day.
 
In America on Christmas Eve 1822 Clement Clarke Moore, a minister with children on his mind, shared a poem titled: “Visit from St. Nicholas.” It was about Santa Claus and is now known as “the Night Before Christmas.” Thus the door was opened for the holiday. In 1834 Charles Dickens published “A Christmas Carol,” a story about charity, hope, love and family. The story made people take a second look at their values.
 
Now we are moving to more commercialism than the heart of what Christmas ought to be. We need to ask the question as Christians, how do we observe Christmas? Do we do this for the Lord or for our self-gratification? Do we even think about why and how we celebrate it? Christmas should be an opportunity to exalt Jesus Christ.
 
Christmas is after all about giving. We are celebrating the greatest gift ever given–God’s Son. God’s gift was first of all a gift of love to an unworthy world. He gave not because He had to, but because He loves us. Our love should reflect that. We need to keep our perspective especially in the minds of our children. It can be one of the most blessed and enjoyable aspect of Christmas.
 
Christmas has become too commercial and materialistic. Every year Christmas buying gets worse. Some of the gifts are not practical. It just sits there after the holidays collecting dust. Our society is literally filled with the unnecessary, the insignificant and the meaningless. Some gifts are just obligatory.
 
This Christmas let us focus more on who Jesus is, why He came, what He did, and is coming back to take us with Him. Going back to where I started, let us bring back the old time celebration of being together with family and friends and remembering God’s goodness and blessings.
 
The Samuel family will spend this Christmas with the church family.

Hope you have a blessed Christmas!

In Christ’s steps,
Pastor Shaker