1. What is Christmas?
If you've come to this page, we assume that, like the Wise Men of old,
you want to investigate the true meaning of Christmas.
In the words of a dictionary, Christmas is: "the annual
festival observed by Christians on 25th December, commemorating the
birth of Christ "
In a nutshell that's it! It's Christians remembering and celebrating,
on the 25th of December every year, the birth of Jesus Christ.
2. The Negatives of what Christmas has become
So why is everybody else jumping up and down?
The reality today, in the West, is that politicians, economists, producers
and retailers use Christmas to stimulate the economy.
The result is that with advertising and shop displays, very large numbers
of us, who owe no genuine allegiance to Jesus Christ, feel pressurised
to buy more food and drink and presents than are good for us. In the
weeks leading up to Christmas considerable numbers of people feel under
great pressure. Christmas has become a burden! Over Christmas we eat
and drink more than is healthy, and after Christmas many of us have
Pause up for a moment and just take in those negatives about this so-called
season of joy. Come on, dare to be honest.
Negatives of Christmas
This is not being a killjoy, this is just facing the truth about what
is now happening every year.
a) Before Christmas
- weeks, if not months, before Christmas day, many of us start compiling
lists of presents that we feel we 'ought' to give.
if we are parents, we may be suffering from the fairly modern phenomena
of "pester-power", the power of children nagging and wearing
down their parents to buy particular presents as a result of TV advertising.
- if we are not very well off we start worrying where the money is going
to come from - some of us will try to work longer hours to pay for the
- if we are single and alone we may dread the awful day coming when
'everyone' else is celebrating and we're all alone.
- if we're a teacher, we know we've got weeks of hectic preparation
for the school nativity play, the carol service, or whatever other production
is going to be put on.
- if we're an employer we often feel we've got to provide an 'office
party' to convince the staff how much we appreciate them.
- if we're an employee then many of us dread the ordeal of being required
to be jolly with people who, for the rest of the year, we just about
- if we're police, doctors, nurses or ambulance workers, we know that
our working lives are going to get very busy and often very unpleasant.
- this is the day that we have been made to feel has GOT to be special,
and for many of us, the only way we know of doing that is by preparing
and eating large amounts of food, and drinking large amounts of alcohol
- preferably in the company of other people who also feel they have
to make it special.
the afternoon varies according to age - asleep in front of the TV, or
playing with the toys, or even for some, walking off the weight of too
much Christmas dinner.
by the evening we're straining to get second wind - either enough stamina
to keep playing the games that may not see another outing until next
Christmas, or to stay awake to see the Christmas TV programme replays,
or to have "a party".
After the Event
- once Christmas has gone there is frequently a sense of anticlimax
after all the weeks of preparation, or a time of passing the days until
the demands of work claim us back to normality again.
when the credit card bill comes in you realise that the time of accounting
has come, and we try to justify it by the "great time" we
Is it that Bad?
Some reading the above descriptions may deride them as the ramblings
of a religious killjoy. If you do, that may either be a defensive reaction
or you don't understand where this might lead.
For many of us, the truth is that our daily lives are so shallow or
empty of real meaning, that the temporary boost of false happiness is
better than what we had before.
Is this an unjust condemnation? Not if the comments of so many people
in recent years, and so many newspaper articles, are to be believed.
For many of us, if we had the courage, we'd like to ban Christmas from
the calendar. For many, it's not that the things above are an overstatement,
but are in fact an understatement of the anguish so many go through,
and the worry they are left with afterwards.
3. The Real Meaning of Christmas
At the top of the page we defined Christmas as a time of remembrance
and celebration by Christians of the birth of Jesus Christ.
Because we are no longer a "Christian country" (if we ever
were one), many of us have little knowledge of exactly what happened
some two thousand years ago, and the meaning of Christmas is conveyed
through sentimental films, or through the annual school nativity play,
which leaves us with an unreal, folksy feel.
For many, therefore, their knowledge of Christmas is probably on a par
with their knowledge of the origins and meaning of Morris Dancing! If
that is you, then this page is for you.
Put Christ back into Christmas!
That is a pretty good campaign slogan! At the heart of Christmas is
Christ - Jesus Christ, the historical figure who lived and died on this
planet some two thousand years ago.
Two thousand years! That sounds a long time? Not really, many other
aspects of our lives have their origins centuries and centuries ago.
The historical records show that Jesus Christ was an historical figure
who lived two thousand years ago. (You can see more about this on other
pages of the Site.)
But that most reliable of documents, the Bible, (and see elsewhere on
the Site to see why we CAN say that) tells us not only about the three
years of his amazing ministry in the land we now call Israel, not only
about his death and resurrection, but also about the amazing events
surrounding his birth.
A Divine Starting Point
You are going to struggle with what follows if you can't grasp one staggering
truth that the Bible declares loud and clear: this baby was God expressing
Himself in human form!
Now even to cope with that description we have to pause and think. Whatever
your view of God might be, the Bible (and philosophers, for that matter)
agree on one thing: if there is a God He has to be THE Supreme Being,
all-mighty, all-powerful, all-knowing, who exists everywhere but who
is yet distinct from matter, who is spirit.
Now the Bible declares that this Almighty God came to earth in human
form. If that is so, then all that follows is not only understandable,
but to be expected. If Almighty God comes onto the earth, then we would
expect unusual things to be happening.
The Supernatural Events of "Christmas"
1. The affair of John the Baptist.
The first thing to happen (read Luke 1:5-25) was God sending an angel
to speak to a priest named Zechariah, on old man with a childless wife,
to tell him that she would conceive and have a son who they were to
call John. This John would become a forerunner of the Christ. This all
2. Mary's Pregnancy
Mary, who became the mother of Jesus, was probably still a teenager,
and was betrothed to Joseph (rather like our engagement). Again an angel
comes to her and tells her that without any human intervention she is
going to conceive and the son she will bear will be the Son of God (read
Luke 1:26-38). This happens.
Joseph is a good young man who, when he hears she is pregnant, decides
to quietly separate off from her, for he knows he's not the father!
However, before he has a chance to do that an angel appears to him in
a dream, explaining what has happened. So real is this dream that he
is convinced and so marries Mary. (See Matthew 1:18-25)
About that time, an edict from Rome (which ruled that whole area at
that time) required a census to be carried out and everyone had to go
to his home town to be registered. This required Joseph to go from Nazareth
where he was living, to Bethlehem with Mary, for that was his home town.
By the time they arrive there the time for the delivery of Mary's baby
has come. When they arrive at Bethlehem the town is full with others
coming to be registered and the couple find shelter in a stable attached
to an inn, and it is there that Jesus is born. (see Luke 2:1-7)
4. The Shepherds
While they are still in Bethlehem, angels appear to shepherds guarding
their flocks on the nearby hillsides and tell them of the arrival of
the baby. They go down to the inn and and see him there. (see Luke 2:8-20)
5. Temple Announcement
As was the custom they take the child to the Temple in Jerusalem to
give thanks to God for his safe arrival, but when they arrive they are
greeted by an old man, Simeon, who says that God has told him to be
there that day to greet his Messiah. He takes the child in his arms
and prophesies that this is God's saviour. (see Luke 2:21-35)
6. Wise Men
After this they return to Bethlehem and some 'astrologers' or 'wisdom
seekers' from the East arrive, saying how they have sensed the arrival
of a great king, and have been guided by a new star (?meteor) in the
sky. They arrive and leave the family presents. (see Matthew 2:1-12)
7. Flight and Return
Shortly after this an angel appears to Joseph in a dream warning him
that the local king, Herod, who has heard through the Wise Men about
Jesus, is planning to kill Jesus. He is told to flee to Egypt, which
they do. Some time later after Herod dies, the angel appears in another
dream to Joseph and tells him it is safe to return home. The young family
then return to Nazareth where they live. (see Matthew 2:13-23).
The Supernatural Dimension
Consider again the supernatural things that have occurred in the outline
Angels, divine messengers, keep turning up: twice to individuals, five
times in dreams and once to a group.
b) Supernatural power:
An old lady, Zechariah's wife Elizabeth, is enabled to suddenly have
a child by him. A young girl, Mary, is enabled to have a child without
the help of a man.
c) Divine guidance:
Guidance is given to Joseph a number of times, to the Wise Men, and
Where this leaves you.
Now if you start off from a presupposition that there is no God and
therefore the 'supernatural' cannot happen, then understandably you
will have switched off - indeed why are you still reading???
But if you concede there could be a God, then the above should not be
too surprising, at least in the possibility of it being able to to happen.
If God IS all-powerful etc. then He is quite able to do all these things.
What is so amazing is that He should WANT to do them. That is the question
with which Seekers of truth now find themselves.
Why should God act in this way? The answer is staggering in its simplicity:
simply because He can, and it's the most natural thing for Him to do!
If in heaven there are angelic messengers, then the obvious thing is
to use them to convey information. If God has the power to enable women
to conceive, then why shouldn't He use it to bless them? If God can
communicate with us, why shouldn't He do it to bring guidance and help?
But under girding all this is the staggering truth that God wants to
communicate with His creation and has done so in the most natural of
ways. It's been said that if you wanted to communicate with ants, the
best way would be to become an ant.
So here is the most staggering of truths, that God stepped down into
the human arena, in human form, to communicate with us. That is why
Christmas is so important, it reminds us of the bridge that God created
from heaven to earth - His 'Son', Jesus Christ, who the apostle Paul
was later to describe as the "image of the invisible God"
The Possibilities of Christmas
In our considerations above we observed the possibilities that God could
communicate with us
- bring His power to our lives
- guide us and help us
than keep on repeating the annual materialistic orgy in December for
no reason other than to jump to the whims of big business, perhaps an
alternative approach could include the following:
a) Acknowledgement of God
If real Christmas is all about God coming to us to communicate, empower,
guide and help us, then a good response would simply be to pause up
in it all and thank Him for the wonder of all that!
b) Consideration of Others
At the heart of Christmas is God coming to us to help us (through the
salvation He brought through Jesus). In this He sets us an example so,
instead of Christmas being a self-centred thing, why not think how you
could bless some else's life, whether it be inviting them to come and
eat with you, or going out and helping at a soup kitchen for the poor,
or whatever other creative idea comes to your mind.
In fact, instead of us suggesting lots of things, if you have lots of
other ideas of how to transform Christmas, why not e-mail them to us
and we might add them to this page.
Is it possible we could transform December into something wonderful?