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What's Right with Christmas?

What's Right with Christmas?

I know. There are a LOT of things wrong with the way Christmas is celebrated in our culture. . .

  • The Christmas merchandising season now begins the day after Halloween;
  • Gift giving is increasingly more harried, hurried, and expensive; . . .to name a few.
  • Santa Claus is more prominent that the Child born in Bethlehem;

And, then there are the folks in the church who are quick to point out that, perhaps:

Christmas was just the Christianized version of the Roman winter solstice celebration;

  • Our cherished traditions—like decorating Christmas trees and festive holiday lighting—come from non-Christian sources, and, are thus, suspect.
  • The birth of Jesus was not in December;

It’s enough to remove Christmas cheer from your heart, isn’t it?

Leaving behind all the crass commercialism and religious arguments, I’d like to share with you a few things that are absolutely RIGHT with Christmas—the first, historic, Jesus-born-in-a-stable Christmas. We’ll consider the historic moment, the location, and the way-beyond-normal occurrences.

To start, Galatians 4:4 speaks of God sending Jesus “in the fulness of time.”

What does that mean? Obviously, it is not referring to December 25, so what made the timing of His birth so absolutely perfect?

It’s a question so rich and complex that one could spend a lifetime digging into the answer, but the short version would include these points:

  • The Greeks, Romans, Gauls (of western Europe), Britons, Jews, Syrians, and Egyptians were all, for the first time, combined into one peaceful and seemingly permanent Roman empire, established in 27 B.C.;
  • East and West were able to freely mingle during the Roman Empire, which meant large cities became the meeting places for different languages and people groups who lived within the boundaries of the empire.
  • This Pax Romana,” or Roman Peace, allowed a more settled, peaceful environment in the Mediterranean region than had ever before been possible—and lasted for more than 200 years;

This was an utterly unique moment in ancient history. It was now possible to take news from one end of the Roman Empire to the other in a very short time, and the metropolitan mix of languages and cultures allowed people to learn of other places and ideas in ways not unlike our current globalism.

Then, consider the geographical dimension of where the birth of Jesus took place. We know it was in Bethlehem, the city of David. But if we zoom out a bit, we discover:

  • Bethlehem was only about six miles from Jerusalem, the metropolitan city of the Roman province of Judea;
  • This province was at the strategic intersection of Asia, Africa, and Europe.

Location, location, location. This was the perfect place—considering trade routes—from which to send out good news.

An utterly unique moment in a perfect location.

And, into this historic setting, we see supernatural events suddenly taking place:

  • Angelic announcements to Zachariah, Mary, Joseph, and shepherds in the fields with their sheep;
  • A heavenly warning to this family to escape to Egypt—with the incredible provision of gold, frankincense and myrrh at just the right moment.
  • Wise men from the East, led by a star, bringing kingly gifts to an impoverished family;
  • A baby born of a virgin.

The more we ponder the events of Jesus birth, the greater our awe will be at His entrance into our world. And, friends, that is what is right with Christmas

Is it time for Christmas Break?
Teaching Tip 12 — Following the Rabbit Trail
 

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Saturday, 17 November 2018
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