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Friday, December 24, 2021

CHRISTMAS: From pagan to Christianity and secular society - ITREALMS

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Introduction: For a better and more effective celebration of this festivity (Christmas), it's very important we have a recap of the history, meaning and importance of some terms in Christmas.
Rev. Fr Simon Peter Dzungwe

1. 25th December: was Jesus born on this date?
-No. Scholars and theologians even gave analysis pointing to 4th January in 4BC before the death of Herod the Great. Some scholars even suggested September.

-25th December was fixed by Pope Julius in 353AD as an attempt to baptize/christianize pagan feast of the sun god. Later in 6th century, Emperor Julianus declared it as a national holiday.


2. Greatest feast? Is Christmas the greatest feast?
-No. As part of God's plan in the history of human salvation, Easter is the biggest feast of salvation: "if the Lord had not risen, in vain is our preaching..." (1Cor15:14).Pentecost is the second and Christmas is the third.


3. The Crib: the best live crib ever was in 1223 Ad by St Francis of Asisi, as a way of making the celebration of Christmas a "live" event and not just a commemoration of a past. Francis observed that the feast was becoming meaningless to a lot (like now). He made a live crib with human beings, new born baby, Ox, manger, sheep and he used many burning touches to make a star-like brightness.
We too are the living cribs of Christmas, meant to bring a live Christmas to the world. The world should gather around us to see Christ.


4. Shepherds: these are the least of the society; the less considered; the irrelevants. The new born king is for all and belongs to no one. He is the King of those forgotten in the desert of poverty, hunger, sickness, loneliness, destitution, barrenness and sin. That's why it seems the whole world, including Muslims and pagans celebrate Christmas. The shepherds remind us that everyone is important.


5. Gifting: the wise men gifts is an evidence to show that Christmas is a feast of God's sharing His love with humanity. Just like the wise men, our gifts should be symbolic, important, lovely and as well valuable.


Christmas reminds us that sharing love with others is our Christian duty. Each time we do that, Jesus is reborn In our lives. Hence there's no Christmas if there's no Jesus to give.


6. Manger. Not only in a den of animals, He was born in a manger (there was not even space to stay where the animals stay, but they found a place for Him where animals eat): this symbolizes the sacrificial meal that Jesus becomes. Christ really is still looking for a place to lay in our lives. Many of us don't have a space for Christ in our homes.


7. The decree for enrollment: reminds us that in Christmas and through the mystery of incarnation, God enrolls us all for salvation by making the grace of God appear for the salvation of all men. By God’s nativity at Christ, God elects us all to become part of the numbered by indeed divinizing human nature.


8. Journey back to the roots: Christmas is a time to return to our spiritual roots (GOD) just as the physical journeys symbolize! (legal root, ecclesiastical root). It is indeed the journey back to the father’s house like that of the prodigal child.


9. Bethlehem Birth: which literally means house of bread; an indication that he who is come is the bread of life!


10. Manger Birth: Just as the manger is lowly, open, poor so should the heart in which he would be born. It also tells us that he who is born is he who gives himself as food to be consumed.


11. The shepherd’s watch: Spiritual watch (with a dutiful spirit), poverty of the spirit is key to divine revelation. He who is born is the real shepherd and also the lamb of God.


12. No room in the inn: The greatest paradox of this night is that after centuries of waiting for the messiah, when he eventually came, there was no space for him to be born in the busy affairs of men. May God save us from this tragedy this year.


13. Emmanuel: it is a reminder that God is with us amidst all circumstances. If God was not with us:


- during the Corona outbreak!!!
- with all the herdsmen and and unknown gun men!!!


- with our political situation!!!
Christmas reminds us that God lives with us and in us, therefore we are God's temple (1Cor 6:19-20). We are in effect, bearers of God with the missionary privilege and duty of conveying Jesus to those around us.
The best Christmas gift we can give or receive is to give love: give people reasons to smile and be happy.


With the celebration of this night, we have come to the end of the season of Advent and the period of expectation and of patient waiting. This is the time to celebrate the Messiah in our midst, the feast of Christmas. It is your season of achieving, a time to conquer not to fight.


My dear people of God, may the birth of Christ open door of fruitfulness to your homes. May your homes experience unusual presence of God. May blessings find in and may joy never depart from you. Amen.


Merry Christmas and happy New year in advance.

*Contributed by Rev. Fr Simon Peter Dzungwe, from Ibadan-Nigeria

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