It is Christmas season once again (2012).  As a believer in Jesus it is quite natural to have mixed feelings about all of the consumerism and partying that we complain about sometimes but never do anything about.  Perhaps the early American Puritans were on to something when they eschewed any celebrations on December 25.  Nonetheless, I seem trapped in the Christmas bubble like everyone else.  I do try to have a Christ-centered Christmas, but many family traditions still contain value for which I thank the Lord.  Below I have listed some random Christmas questions with my observations.

1.  Is December 25 the right day for the birthday of Jesus?

In the Western Church this has been the traditional day to celebrate Christ’s birthday since about the 4th century. There are some church groups which celebrate Jesus’ birth on other days, most notably January 6.   I have seen some research and commentaries that suggest that Jesus was not born in the winter.  One study Bible I looked at noted that the shepherds would not have had their flocks out in the field during the winter.  One man in a Sunday School class I was teaching years ago asked the obvious question, “Where else would they keep their flocks?”  I have been in Israel in the winter months when it snowed in Jerusalem.  The shepherds had their flocks in the field and brought them to the market on Fridays like they have been doing for centuries.  So I do not have a difficulty with a winter birth.  However, I am not sure we know enough to be dogmatic.  The important truth is that Jesus came into the world to save sinners like me.

2.  What is my favorite Christmas gift of all time that I have received?

There have been many special gifts I have received through the years.  One occasion was when my twin brother Jimmy and I gave each other a book.  This was when we were both in seminary.  We opened our presents at the same time and discovered we had given each other the same book! — Wuest’s Expanded Translation.  Of course, from Mom and Dad there was electric football, hockey, and baseball games.  However, when I think about Christmas gifts over the years, one of my first thoughts is about a Davy Crockett figurine I got when I was around 5 or 6 years old I believe.  The Disney production of the Davy Crockett saga ending with the Alamo story mesmerized me as a little boy.  Fess Parker who played Davy Crockett (picture to the right) became one of my heros.  As an adult when I visted the Alamo in San Antonio for the first time, it was a super special time. 

3.  Was any Christmas more special than others?

There is one Christmas season that stands out more than the others.  It was Christmas 1974.  I had come to faith in Christ in August of that year.  This was my first Christmas as a Christian.  I remember watching a TV presentation of “The Little Drummer Boy” that produced great emotion in me.  The thought came to me that “I final get it.  I now understand what it is all about.”  Of course, all have been special as my kids were born and raised and we visited grandma and grandpa.  There are special ones to come I suppose.  But that 1974 Christmas will remain unforgettable.

4.  Was Jesus really born of a virgin?

Of course.  Once you believe in a Creator God, the virgin birth is a small miracle and does not take much faith to believe in.  The Bible clearly teaches the virgin birth so I accept it.

Stay tuned for more Christmas Memories.