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Letter #83: The Importance of Christmas

December 22, 2010

Dear Christmas,

My family played a game at Brueggen Christmas this weekend. Somehow I managed to win, but more than anything it got me thinking. How much do we really know about you? Sure, we willingly embrace the gifts, the big guy in the red suit and good food. We all stress out about how we’re going to have enough money to buy gifts, figuring out what the perfect gifts are and whether or not the holidays will be filled with family drama or not. The majority of our country even understands that Christ might have something to do with you as church attendance skyrockets. But how much do we really know?

The game consisted of 15 questions about Christ’s life. I thought I’d share a few of the questions and explain the answers.

  • Why did Joseph marry Mary after he learned she was going to have a child?

An angel told him to marry her. Joseph and Mary were only betrothed when Mary discovered she was with child. This meant they were promised to be married, but they weren’t married. It was a 12 month period where sex was not part of the relationship, and if the woman were found pregnant everyone knew she had been unfaithful. This was looked down upon and could even result in stoning. Matthew tells us Joseph was a righteous man and was going to send her away secretly so not to disgrace her when he found out. However, God had different plans. An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream telling him to marry Mary because the Child had been conceived by the Holy Spirit, she would bear a Son, He would be named Jesus and would save His people from their sins. Joseph obeyed, took Mary as his wife and kept her a virgin until after Christ’s birth. Why? Well, I believe so prophecy could be fulfilled without any question. The Messiah’s arrival was supposed to be through a virgin according to Isaiah 7:14, and it was! Joseph waited to consummate his marriage extra long to ensure a virgin birth…no wonder Matthew describes him as righteous.

  • After the magi left Bethlehem, an angel told Joseph to take Mary and the baby Jesus to…?

Egypt. After the magi came to Jerusalem asking where the ‘King of the Jews’ had been born, Herod was troubled. He sought after the chief priests and scribes to tell him exactly where Jesus was expected to be born, then told the magi to return to share His whereabouts. They went home a different way because God had warned them in a dream. Herod was enraged and declared a slaughter of all male children in Bethlehem and all its vicinity from two years old and under to ensure the death of this ‘King of the Jews.’ Little did he know an angel had appeared to Joseph after the magi’s departure to tell him to flee to Egypt because Herod would attempt to destroy Jesus. All this happened to fulfill multiple prophecies of the Messiah. Hosea 11:1 declares He would come out of Egypt and Jeremiah 31:15 discusses the death of children.

  • What city did Jesus grow up in?

Nazareth. Once Herod died, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream in Egypt telling him to return to Israel and through a series of events settled in Nazareth. This fulfilled the prophecy of the Messiah being a Nazarene.

I’m not an expert on you at all, but I do know that we celebrate you openly without really knowing a ton of details. All of the above explanations were found in Matthew 1 and 2. Any old Joe can figure this stuff out. However, knowledge isn’t enough. Are our lives transformed because God was born into our world when we celebrate you? Do we realize ‘baby Jesus’ grants us eternal life, and are we different because of it?

Thankful for knowledge but let my heart be changed because of it,

Adorer of Christ this holiday season

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