Why is Christmas such an important holiday for millions of people around the world? In the two two thousand year history of Christianity, our understand and celebration of Christmas is a rather recent innovation. In fact some historians believe that Christmas was invented to replace pre-Christian festivals and traditions which were so important to early converts to the faith.
The winter solstice marked an important turning point for almost everyone living in northern Europe. It meant that the bitter cold and short days were coming to an end and there was hope of a coming spring when the world would literally come back to life, or wake up, from the cold dark months of winter.
As time passed, Christmas slowly evolved into the grand holiday it is now and, other than the commercialism that accompanies the holiday in North America, I like Christmas. But again, why is it so important?
We celebrate the birth of Christ (an English transliteration of the Greek word christos meaning annointed). His birth has become significant to us because of what he would do thirty or so years from that night in Bethlehem.
Christmas is and can be important only because Jesus would overthrow the twin tyrants of sin and death and through his victory would give us a preview of what the final victory would be like. Christmas is important because it commemorates when the world's best and only hope condescended from his place with the Father redeem all of the good creation and save and exalt all the children that bear God's image.
With all of this in mind, let us not merely celebrate the babe in Bethlehem, but also rejoice in the God who himself came into the world to make all of creation at one with its' creator and allow the children of the great Heavenly King to take their place with him as joint-heirs in a new world to come.