The significance of Christmas
From The Primate Of The Church Of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) And The Chairman Of Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon) And The Trinity Foundation, Ibru Centre, The Most Revd. Nicholas D. Okoh
Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ, which is God’s special and highest gift to mankind and the world. It is a joyous occasion marked out in church season in commemoration that at a time in history, God took upon himself flesh and became man to perfect the salvation of man (John 1:1,14). The issue is not whether Christ was born on December 25 or not, but that as a matter of fact, in a historic/factual time, “when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman… (Gal. 4:4).
Christ Has Come
“O People, Take a notice, The Messiah Has Come! The Saviour of the World Has Come!
All the creation testify to His coming, Open your hearts and see your Redeemer!
Don’t wait another day, open your eyes and see, Prince of Peace, The Messiah has come.”
(Persian Poetry by Gherajeh Da’aghi)
Christmas reminds us that Christ has come. He came to the world, but the world did not recognize him and so failed to receive him (John 1:10-11). The Jews and some others are still looking forward to the coming of the Christ. Many acknowledge and even celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus but not the Lord and Saviour of the world. The first coming of Christ was certainly not “on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:30) for all nations to see him, just as his second will be. Nevertheless, it was sufficiently evident and well attested to. Jesus the Christ has come into the world by birth and accomplished his messianic and redemptive roles. We need to realize this and receive him into our hearts.
Immmanuel – God With Us
The Bible interprets the Event of the birth of Jesus as Immanuel (God with us). ‘So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”’ (Matt. 1:22-23)
God with us makes the difference between us and others (Exod. 33:15-16).
Reversal Of The Woe Of The World
When Satan was hauled down to the earth, the angels exclaimed: “…Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you…” (Rev. 12:12). But when Jesus came/was born into the earth, an angel declared it “good tidings of great joy… for all people” as he announced that on that “day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” was born. Then a multitude of the heavenly host joined the angel and praised God saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” which reversed the curse/woe earlier declared by the angels to the earth at the entrance of the Devil. This is the background of the carols/singing at the celebration of the birth of Christ.
The tragedy of the fall is damnation and the alienation from God.
But the joy of the birth of Jesus is the remedy and reconciliation with God (salvation from sins). Thus, the History of Salvation, which started with God’s plan for man’s salvation as a remedy to the Fall of man and its disastrous consequences consummated/materialized in the Christ Event, which was kicked off with the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The real meaning of Christmas is generally forgotten today. It has become a mere time of festivity and fun. Children know more of Father Christmas than Jesus and look forward to going to park than Church on Christmas Day. The adults are not left out. Many neither bother to join in the worship of God nor meditate on the meaning and import of Christmas. Christmas Day is mostly seen now only as a time for wining and dining and making merry in all dimensions. It has also become a “season” for lucrative business ventures, Platonism and anything but spirituality and reflection.
Christmas, for sure, calls for celebration. But to celebrate Christmas without Christ is a worrisome anomaly.
• Ven. Dr Princewill Onyinyechukwu Ireoba is the Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre,
Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.
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