Do you know the date on which you were born? Of course you do. What more significant day could there be in your life than your actual birth day? Now, although each of us was clearly there on our birth day, I’ll bet not one of us can remember it – actually remember the date, the day, the time we were born. We need to be told that by others, and we need to trust that they are telling us the truth. Just for added assurance we have our birth certificate – although we also need to trust whatever agency issued that.
The date of the birth of a very poor child in the middle of the night to a couple far away from home in a stable or covering for animals would be clearly known to the parents – Mary and Joseph from Nazareth. Probably very few others would have marked the occasion, expect a few other poor persons (shepherds, we’re told) who were paying particular attention to the skies that night.
The significance of this particular birth became evident as the life of this son of a carpenter from Nazareth became more public, and certainly to his followers after his death and resurrection. Perhaps Mary passed along the specifics. Perhaps these were lost in the chaos then exuberance of his death and resurrection, but the need to set a date to celebrate this breaking into human history of the Salvation of our God led to what we know as Christmas Day, the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ. And we have come to see, not only in history, but in our own individual lives, that such a celebration in the coldest and darkest time of the year is no accident. NOW is when we need the warmth of a loving God. NOW is when we need the new light to shine hope on a tired, suffering, too angry, very divided human race. NOW is when a new birth of peace must take root in the hearts of all believers.
Whoever they are who set the date of celebrating the Lord’s Nativity on December 25, THANK YOU. You really knew what you were doing. May the warmth, the hope, the peace of our God rest with you and your family and friends this Christmas and always.