The famous song by the above title heralds Christmas as a romantic season of parties, traditions, singing, and general love and good will towards others. Written in 1963, it reflects the era of the mid-1900’s, making it even more romantic in this day of painful relationships, commercialism aimed at profit, the idolizing of Santa Claus, flying reindeer and snow, and political correctness run amuck in renaming the season “The Holidays”. Isn’t Christmas supposed to be about the Christ?
It is noteworthy that God Almighty through Moses, assigned the celebration of several annual festivals to His people, along with their very specific regulations and practices. These were all a foreshadowing of the promised Messiah. But when Messiah actually entered the world in a lowly manner they did not expect, He was not recognized by the very group assigned to safeguard the promise. It was not until 336 years after Jesus’ death that the Roman Emperor Constantine chose to celebrate Jesus’ birthday on December 25, his selection of date.
Certainly, if there is a birthday worthy of celebrating, it is Jesus’. He left Eternity, entered into our physical time, and changed it. He bridged the gap between God Who is Spirit, and man who is flesh, by being both. He reduced 600-some laws given to Moses to two – love God, and love others – teaching and demonstrating how. There has never been anyone like Jesus Who offered His life as an atonement for ALL people throughout all time. Yet, no one in Heaven decreed that His birthday should be celebrated.
Constantine did a good thing in bringing attention to the historical importance and vital spiritual reality of God’s fulfilled promise of Immanuel, God with us in Jesus. I am personally very grateful for the opportunity this date and season brings to ponder the love, wisdom and grace of the Father to send us His Son. I also admit to enjoying the decorating, gatherings of family and friends, the celebratory food, Christmas carols, and special traditions. But, would our celebration be just as meaningful without all the trappings? (Why did I have to put up a tree this year?)
Heavenly Father, as much as I love this season, please help me to make You and my precious Savior Jesus my daily priority this next year. Let Your unconditional love for me become a defining reality that changes me from the inside out. And may my life overflow with Your love into the lives around me — Your abundant life and love that is impossible to explain, and too big to contain.