Happy Birthday, Lord Jesus!

BY: Lawrence Darmani

The war was at its climax at dawn on December 25. In a far-away jungle, two enemy forces fiercely discharged deadly bullets at each other.

Then, by sunrise, via makeshift radios, the warring army commanders declared what the fighting troops had been waiting for—the “Christmas Ceasefire”—when all fighting stopped.

Even fighting enemies respected Christmas as a season of peace, unity and the need to put away their guns.

Suddenly, all hostilities ceased and the jungle became so calm that the soldiers now heard the soothing songs of birds and the gentle wind blowing in the trees.

Private Somua found a quiet place under a huge tree and relaxed. He was on a peace-keeping assignment but had been forced to fight alongside the foreign government troops to ward off the guerrillas.

He pulled a small New Testament from his backpack and began to read the Christmas story from Luke chapter two. As he read, he remembered his wife and three children back at home.

Christmas that year met Private Somua in the jungle, surrounded by war; yet he found peace and tranquility.

In silent prayer, he invoked the presence of God, saying, “Immanuel, be with me and my family back at home. Immanuel, be with us in this jungle war!”

For the period of the “Christmas Ceasefire”, he enjoyed a moment of quiet and satisfaction. It was as if Christ had visited him in the jungle, and his presence felt so real that he could hum a local Christmas carol about the Saviour who was born for humanity’s peace with God.

In villages, towns, and cities throughout the world—homes, workplaces, prisons, and hospitals—Christmas releases the feeling of love, joy, peace, and wellbeing. No matter the circumstances and challenges facing people, Christmas projects hope.

Good news

The good news of Christmas is that God sent his only begotten Son to deliver us from sin, evil and to pave the way for our salvation.

At Christmas, we worship the Saviour, sing hymns, and read Scriptures in order to get in tune with God. Goodwill is exchanged, families get reunited, gifts are shared, and the vulnerable are provided for.

But while Christmas approaches with peace and joy to the world, there are people who love to engage in a controversy about the season.

Areas of dispute about Christmas include:

1. That Jesus was not born on December 25 so why make such commotion about his date of birth?

2. That the Bible does not say we should celebrate Jesus’ birthday, so why celebrate it?

3. That the Christmas season used to be the period for pagan festival and worship, so why mingle paganism with Christianity?

4. That the yuletide (Christmas) festivity has degenerated into a season for merrymaking—boozing, partying, waywarding, and even immorality—so why link it with the Lord’s birth?

Honestly, none of these disputes bother me. None. For me, it is the Christ of Christmas who makes the season and its celebration worthwhile.

I care less whether Christmas falls on December 25 or March 6 or June 4. We don’t celebrate the day; we celebrate his birth.

My joy is that he was born, for his birth is hugely significant for our life here and hereafter. It doesn’t matter when he was born, but it matters that he was born.

Instead of arguing about the date when our Lord was born, I would rather discuss the lesson to learn from the shepherds who left their flock at night in search of the new-born Saviour. Let our desire to know Christ be more important to us than our flock of businesses.

True, the Bible does not say, “Celebrate the birth of Christ.” But neither does it say, “Don’t celebrate the birth of Christ!”

If whatever we do is “true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8) then Christ’s birth is worth celebrating.

Thanks to those who hijacked a pagan celebration to commemorate the birth of Christ. How I wish all pagan days and festivities were turned into days for worshipping the living God!

Some early missionaries erroneously banned the use of drums in church because drums were used for idol worship. Today, we use drums to worship God.

I know a Christian group that bought fetish grounds, prayed out the demons, and built a worship centre for Jesus. Serve the Lord in spirit and in truth and you cannot go wrong.

Those who think they are celebrating Christ’s birth in booze and perversion should remember that that is not Christmas.

True Christmas focuses on Christ and what he offers to humanity—God’s love, reconciliation, peace, true joy, and concern for one another.