Liberia: The Meaning and Significance of Christmas

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December 25, one of the biggest holidays in the world has been celebrated throughout the world. Christmas has been over-commercialized; it offers great business opportunities for many companies, enterprises, and other commercial ventures. It is also the time when gifts of all kinds are shared, homes, offices, Churches, and other places people live, work and play are elegantly decorated. A lot of travels and forms of festivities go on during Christmas.

In short, Christmas has pre-Christian, pagan, traditional, cultural, commercial, Christian and pleasure dimensions built around it over the years. Many around the world celebrate Christmas without thinking about the origins, meaning, and purpose of the Christmas event and story. This article intends to remind all of the meaning and purpose of Christmas.

The word, “Christmas” literally means “Christian Mass” meaning a Mass (Holy Communion Service said or Sung to celebrate the birth of Christ). Christmas is about Jesus Christ, his birth through a virgin, Mary, his mother. We do not know the exact date and time he was born. But we do know that he lived and still lives. The birth narrative of Jesus (the nativity) is found in Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 2:1-14.

This is a birth narrative of someone very special. The Scripture maintains that he was born of some supernatural means. That is the point of the virgin birth story. He was born in a world torn apart by the powerful vs the powerless, the rich vs the poor, the oppressors vs the oppressed, the full and the hungry, and the strife vs peace. He was not born in a big city. He was not born in a rich family.

He was born into a struggling normal family. He was born in a manger (where animals feed) because there was no space for his mother, Mary, and his stepfather, Joseph, to stay.

Very early on, he began to make a difference with his teachings of authority, miracles of various kinds, and his ability to draw crowds to himself and make the rich and powerful angry.

Even those who do not acknowledge him as divine still acclaim him as a great teacher and one who advocated for justice and pleaded for compassion for those afflicted in various ways. The Bible testifies that he went about doing good to as many as possible (Acts 10:38).

The wickedness of the human heart led him to Calvary where he was cruelly murdered because his enemies, including the secular and religious authorities of the day, could no longer stomach him. In one sense his death was political.

That is because he challenged the status quo. If he had limited himself to praying and fasting for the ills of the world he probably would not have been killed in such gruesome fashion. No priest or prophet gets into trouble by praying and fasting for the powers that be but when one gets into fronting injustice and truth-telling then the preacher or prophet is accused of being “political” or “meddling into politics."

Nevertheless, of course, on a deeper level, he died because of the wickedness of all human beings. We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” to quote Isaiah and Paul. 

Christmas is about God’s greatest gift to mankind. Christmas is about sharing, God sharing His best with mankind. Christmas about love, joy, peace and goodwill to be appropriated and shared. In the words of the angel, “Don’t be afraid! I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all the people” (Luke 2:9-10).

Christmas is about peace, “For to us a child is born, for to us a son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders. And he will be called, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

The significance of Christ is that you and I have an opportunity to receive or recommit ourselves to cause of Jesus Christ, God’s greatest gift to us. The opportunity to know Him personally and experience the joy and peace that He brings. To experience the forgiveness and the power that He brings.

To experience the freedom (liberty) and the grace that He brings, and to experience and participate in the task of telling others the blessings that He brings to them and the great task of working hard to make this world a better and juster world. If we truly believe in Christmas and what it sands for, then we go out and share the best of our gifts with others, the best of ourselves with others. We then go out and be lovers and promoters of peace.

We then go out and fight for justice and treat others, particularly those less fortunate than ourselves, with compassion and practical service that brings relief, freedom, and empowerment. Christmas is all about love, peace, joy, justice, forgiveness, patience, and making personal sacrifices for the good of others. God has given us His best; let us share the best of ourselves with others and our hungry world.