On 25th December every year, all the Catholics or Christians celebrate the Festival Day, which named Christmas Day. It is celebrated with colorful ornament in and around the church, singing carol song (sometimes with orchestra), full of candles and colorful lamps, Christmas tree, Yule log, Santa Claus, etc. Some churches need most of the time to prepare all of these. This preparing is needed to welcome the Christmas Day, where Jesus Christ is coming and bringing the PEACE for every people. The questions are: Who is Jesus Christ? Why the Christmas Day is celebrated every year? Is it important and still relevant to celebrate it?
1. Who is Jesus Christ?
Jesus Christ is Central Figure in New Testament of the Bible. He is the Savior for all human beings, and bringing the peace for them. To know “Who is Jesus Christ”, we may use two approaches; Factual of Historical and Gospel. Both of these approaches are complements to the others.
1.1. The Factual of Historical
Jesus of Nazareth, a 1st century Jewish teacher who was crucified by the Romans, is believed as Messiah whom God revealed himself to the world and whose death reconciles the world to God.
Knowledge of Jesus as a historical person is provided mainly by New Testament of the BIBLE (especially the Gospel). Jesus was born in Roman-ruled Palestine during the reign of Roman emperor Augustus (27 BC AD 14) and grew up in the Galilean village of the Nazareth. Associated early in His career with JOHN THE BABTIST, He gathered around Him a group of disciples attracted by His interpretation of Jewish Law and His MIRACLE, especially His exorcisms and healing of the sick. Jesus criticisms of Jewish Religious leaders, coupled with political rhetoric, He used in announcing that God’s rule was about to replace human rule, led to mounting opposition toward Him in both the Jewish and Roman establishment. Arrested in Jerusalem, he was tried, condemned, and executed as a claimant to Jewish kingship. This death by CRUCIFIXION _ a form of execution used by the Romans to punish non-Roman citizen who threatened Roman authority – took place when Pontius PILATE was Roman governor of Judea ( from AD 26 36). Jesus followers believed that God had raised Him from the dead. His raising from the dead is very important for the Christianity, and this is the KEY or “Nucleus” of Christianity’s belief.
1.2. Jesus Christ in Gospels
The Gospel accounts vary in the information they provide about Jesus. The Gospel according to Mark and John concentrate on the story of his public activity and teachings. The Gospel of Matthew and Luke furnish accounts on His birth and childhood.
Matthew begins his Gospel by tracing the genealogy of Jesus back to two central figures in the history of Israel: Abraham, the father of the Jewish people, and David, their most illustrious
King. Luke gives a somewhat different line of descent, tracing it back to Adam and thereby emphasizing the significance of Jesus for the whole human race. Both Matthew and Luke report the birth of Jesus as taking place in Bethlehem, the ancestral city of David, giving the name of His mother as Mary and of her husband as Joseph. They describe his conception as a miraculous event _ Mary being a virgin _ and tell of signs and prophecies pointing to His importance as the fulfillment of the hopes of Israel and of God’s redemptive purpose for the world. In Matthew, Herod, King of Judea, tried to kill the child, forcing Mary and Joseph to take Him to Egypt for safety. The birth of Jesus is commemorated at CHRISTMAS.
2. Should Christmas is celebrated every year?
Christmas is the feast of the birth of Jesus Christ, celebrated on December 25. Despite the Christian birth stories, the church did not observe a festival for the celebration of the event until 4th century. The date was chosen from the tradition that time (the ancient festival connected with the winter solstice). Since 274, under the emperor Aurelian, Rome had celebrated the feast of the “Invincible Sun” on December 25. In Medieval Europe, folk customs connected with the winter solstice were perpetuated together with the church celebration.
We do not talk over about the date of the Christmas on December25, because it is not so important. One important thing is Christmas should be celebrated every year. Since 274, the church has celebrated it as the date of Christmas Day. Our concentration is Jesus Christ as a central figure at Christmas Day. He is the Savior for us and for all human beings. We celebrate it because of Jesus Christ is a Savior and the Lord.
Christmas Day is a good moment for Christians to increase their belief to Jesus Christ. Jesus as the Lord and the Son of God, but He is still a human like the other people (except of sin). As the Son of God, he came to the world to save all the human race from the power of evil spirit (‘power of darkness’) to the True Way (God’s willing). This enormous job is not easy, because He had to get suffering and was dead on the Cross (take place as Easter Ceremony). For His sacrifice, of course, we must commemorate Him by celebrating His birth. That is one reason why we celebrate Christmas every year, to show our belief to Jesus Christ as our Savior, the Lord and the Son of God.
3. Implication of Christmas Day 2011
Although every December 25, we celebrate the Jesus Christ Birth; it does not mean that it is a ceremonial routine only (just annual ceremony activity). Celebrating of Christmas Day can obtain the real deepest useful for followers and the other people.
First, for society: By celebrating Christmas Day in this year, it is hoped that we can build the peace society in surrounding us i.e. obey the rules, tolerate among the religion, cultures, ethnic group, etc. Moreover, we have to help the other people who need our helps, we must keep environment clean, having responsibility for the common interest and many more.
Second, for parents: By celebrating Christmas Day in this year, we are reminded again about Jesus’ teachings, His biggest love and Peace. So, we ought to lead and take care our children based on Jesus’ teachings and His way of life. Be a home as a peace home for children! From this situation, the children can grow up normally, their life can be full with love. The good parents, of course, try to avoid violence in family, not only in small family, but also in big family.
Third, for Teachers: The teachers are the pioneer of the education. That’s why, they have important role to develop student’s ability, knowledge, attitudes, and their future. Hopefully, by celebrating the Christmas Day 2011, the teachers could make introspection themselves: How they are. They had better reduce to accuse or blame the students; or they try to stop punishing the students that make them down. The teachers must be patient when they are teaching in the class. All these are the challenges for them, but it is the way to show, “How they are”. One word, be a good teacher and educator!
The last, for students: By celebrating Christmas Day 2011, the students must be good students. They must obey the school’s rules, avoiding vandalism at school; try to learn hard every day, do the test by yourself and prepare well (No Cheating!); come to school on time; don’t make a lot of noise in the class; make a good relationship among the students; never try to play truant. Moreover, the students try to create more and more things that can make them active, find the knowledge to prepare your future. The teachers know that most of you have been doing much useful for yourself, for your school, parents, etc. Keep it!
Finally, Christmas Day 2011 is OUR CHRISTMAS. The Lord is coming and bringing the PEACE to us, for all people, and for over the world! Please, welcome Him and let him living in your heart forever. We should provide our charity to the other people around us. Oh, telling to the mountain to the hills, to the world, to every where, the Lord is coming. He is coming to bring the PEACE into your family, schools, society, nations, world, every people, every where. Let’s build our relationship based on PEACE, PEACE AND PEACE.
MERRY CHRISTMAS DAY 2011!
By: Frans Saverius Salim
English Teacher of SMAK Santo Yoseph Denpasar.