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December 2023

by Rev. Phillip Girardin

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed; the little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head...

There's so much about the holiday season that points us to Jesus, and yet the world specifically seeks to remove Jesus from it. The mildly funny part is as they try to remove Jesus from Christmas, they end up just highlighting another aspect of Him in it. Here's an example of it. The name of Christmas means the Mass of Christ. Now, I will grant there are several older derivations of the name, but most people don't fall back on them. Instead, it is Christmas. The world seeks to remove Christ from Christmas, and in so doing will frequently write it as X-mas. Yet Jesus still hangs on. X, or the Greek letter Chi, is the first letter in the word Christ or Χριστος (Christos) in Greek. As you can see, Christ continues to remain in the mass, even if through the initial. Whenever I see people do this, it makes me smile inwardly because Christ remains.

Then we move to happy holidays. I've heard Christians become frustrated here as well. It's removing Jesus. At the same time, it isn't. Jesus clings tenaciously on. Holidays is the corruption of the phrase, holy day. Christmas is most certainly a holy day. As much as the world seeks to hide Jesus, He simply cannot be pushed away and still have the holiday remain.

So how do you celebrate, and remember, Jesus on Christmas in your own way? I recall one family that for Christmas dinner had birthday cake as a desert, rejoicing that they were celebrating Jesus' birthday. There was a decoration that took root several years ago that had a large nail hung near the trunk of the tree. It was there as a reminder to the family of the house to what Jesus came to do. It's a rather poignant thing. My family follows a custom that comes from the medieval church. We wrap Baby Jesus as a gift and place Him under the tree. At some point on Christmas, someone will open Him, and at that time Jesus goes into the manger, with the Magi following 12 days later. How do you rejoice and celebrate Jesus during this season?

Over the centuries, the church has celebrated the nativity of Jesus Christ in song and worship. This year, we continue this practice and look intentionally at those hymns. We consider the message they tell us and the hope that they give. We rejoice as we move from Advent into Christmas and there rejoice as we remember the hope of the world come to us.

Brothers and sisters, I pray that as you celebrate the Christmas holidays that you are surrounded by friends and family. I pray that the joy and peace you receive isn't something that evaporates with the New Year, but is something that continues with you, as Jesus does, into 2024 and beyond. As we trim our houses, decorate the tree, and wrap presents this holiday, this holy day, season that the joys and peace whisper into your ear that everything is to be a reminder of the very Son of God who came and took on our flesh, was born in a manger, was heralded by Angels, and was attended to by Shepherds. Rejoice and be glad because for all the effort the world puts into removing Jesus, He tenaciously hangs on and remains the very reason for the season.

Love, joy, and peace be with you this Advent and Christmas season.

Pastor Phil

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