The Message of Christmas
As we approach the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, we tend to focus on some of the values that have come to be associated with Christmas: generosity, family, forgiveness, sharing, reconnecting, warmth, joy, happy memories. Thus, many people see the messages of Christmas more clearly on The Hallmark Channel than they do the Bible or Christian worship.
In faith, let’s revisit some of the facts:
- Jesus was and is completely divine (God) and completely human (ourselves). We might say he looks like us and acts like his Father.
- Jesus’ mother in the flesh was/is Mary of Nazareth. As the mother of Jesus, she is also the Mother of God. This does not mean that God took his origin from Mary – he has no beginning. But God as Jesus was born from Mary, as his channel into human time and human existence. He was God when he was born from Mary, therefore she is the Mother of God.
- Mary remained throughout her life devoted to her one great calling, to be a disciple of Jesus. Her “career” within that calling was to be his mother. This was exclusive and, as such, she bore no other children. Jesus’ extended family members were sometimes referred to as brothers or sisters, a form of reference still common in some language groups today, e.g. Vietnamese.
- Mary’s spouse was Joseph. He was a just and holy man who agreed to be the spouse of Mary while protecting her perpetual virginity. As such, he is the guardian of Mary and his foster-son, Jesus.
- Joseph was a worker-in-wood, an artisan who created furniture, customized gear for oxen, carpentry and other necessities. He, in turn, shared his craft with his son, Jesus, as was the custom of the time.
- The revealed word of God, the Bible, sees Jesus as the Light of the World. Therefore it became the custom to celebrate his birth at the darkest time of the year. For this reason, the date of Christmas is set on December 25, near the Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere. This is a time of great significance for many religions, including the pagans.
- The Christmas crèche or manger scenes we erect often reflect the first several months of Jesus’ life. The shepherds and the angels came into the life of Jesus and his parents at the time of his birth. The magi (wise men from the East) did not arrive until closer to Jesus’ second birthday.
The story of the birth of Jesus can be found in the Bible in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. It also occasionally may be found in dramatic form on The Hallmark Channel.