Yesterday was Christmas, when Christians around the world celebrated the birth of Jesus. We attended a church service on Christmas Eve, and the pastor said that few millennials know the true meaning of Christmas. It seems that people believe Christmas is a cultural holiday celebrated by putting up tress and gathering with family. I grew up Catholic, so some of my favorite memories are of the Christmas story being reenacted by the kids each year at Christmas Eve services.
We measure our time as Before Christ, B.C., and after Christ arrived. The meaning of A.D. stands for Anno Domini, which is Latin for “year of our Lord,” and it means the number of years since the birth of Jesus Christ. Currently, we are in 2018 A.D., so for 2018 years, we have celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ. If you don’t know the meaning of Christmas and how it defines our measurement of time, the historical account is below.
The Birth of Jesus
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.
–Luke 2:1-21 (NIV)
God gave us his only son, Jesus, to save us from our sins. Jesus lived and preached until he was about 32 years old. He was then crucified and died on a cross to forgive us of our sins. He was buried in a tomb for 3 days, when God raised him from the dead, and Jesus is now in heaven, seated at the right hand of our Father. God, did all of this for us, so our sins could be forgiven. All we have to do is believe in Jesus in our hearts.
Our church frequently asks at the end of the service, if anyone wants to accept Jesus in their hearts. Sometimes, streams of people go to the front of church. When we brought someone to church with us, she told others about how the pastor asks if anyone wants to accept Jesus. It did not illicit the response that I anticipated. Someone remarked that it sounded like a cult. They continued to talk about how some churches sell seats in front of the church for Christmas and Easter, so you don’t have to arrive so early. This is a clear reflection of our society, some may go to church, but pick and choose what to believe in and miss the whole point of going to church. Jesus is the reason for Christmas and Easter. I hope that the idea of selling seats in church is not true, but if we are there yet, it is just a matter of time in some congregations. The idea of seeing Christianity as a cult is disappointing, but I do see society trying to ridicule Christians in every way possible for being a practicing Christian. If you do believe in Christ, you will see how amazing God is to us and how much he can carry us through, if we let go of ourselves and tell God that we do need Jesus Christ in our lives. We can buy everything in sight and make a ton of money, but that won’t make us happy. When we have Jesus in our hearts, there is a peace and joy that fills our lives, that money cannot buy.