The Christmas season is the time of the year that witnesses a lot of celebrations. There is a general air of merriment wherever you turn. I think it is no coincidence that Christmas is marked in December, the last month of the year. The red and white colours of Christmas conspicuously adorn homes, schools, shops, and many other public places. Also, it is common place to see special dresses, hats, etc characteristically worn only for the Christmas celebrations. This season is a spectacular time of the year marked in so many nations worldwide. Over the years, business proprietors and merchants have tapped into the high propensity of people for shopping this period to make their last major profits for the year. It is common place to hear of Christmas bonanza, Christmas splash, and so many other marketing schemes designed around the Christmas festivities. This is also the time of the year when some consumer goods sell for twice their normal prices at other times of the year. Transportation fares are usually hiked this season as transporters target huge profits from the large numbers of travelers moving home to celebrate Christmas. There is a beehive of activities everywhere this season, weddings, carnivals, and so many other parties take place this season. There is however a consequence of having these many ceremonies going on alongside the Christmas celebration, and it is the fact that the essence of Christmas is gradually lost. Many people may be having what at best should be called end of the year celebration while mistaking it for Christmas. As we celebrate another Christmas, it is pertinent to find out the significance of this season to humanity, if we will do it in a way that benefits our eternal destiny.

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Have you had a birthday party or attended one before? You will agree with me that it is always a merry atmosphere. There is fancy decoration, good music, and some delicacies or snacks to entertain the guests and lots of gifts exchange. However, one major feature that marks such a party is the presence of the celebrant. Can you imagine having a birthday party without having the one whose day of birth is commemorated? That would be very unusual. Christmas is the commemoration of the birth of Christ. It derives its name from the Mass of Christ, a feast observed by the early church to mark the significant birth of Jesus Christ. We can say that Christmas is the birthday celebration of Jesus Christ. Why do we have to celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ? It is because He brought us salvation and reconciled us to God. He made the ultimate sacrifice to redeem us from sin and death. We celebrate the only begotten Son of God who came down from heaven to bear our punishment for sin and bring us the joy of heaven. Over 2015 years ago, Jesus Christ was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judah in Israel. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and borne by a virgin named Mary, who was bethrothed to Joseph, a carpenter ( Luke 2: 1 - 20, Mathew 1: 18-25, 2:1-2). On the night the Lord was born, His parents had gone to Bethlehem to be counted in a census ordered by Augustus Caesar, the Roman emperor under whose rule Israel was at this time. It happened that Mary went into labor in the course of the exercise and the husband, Joseph sought where she could have a safe delivery, but no place could be found except a stable where cattle were kept. The inns had all been taken, and Joseph had no other option but to shelter in this stable. It was here that Jesus Christ was born, and he had a manger for His cradle. We know also from the Biblical account that a star had appeared in the sky on this day and wise men from the East who read the star knew it was that of a king, but its brightness was such as they had never seen before, so they followed the star all the way to Bethlehem to the stable where Jesus was. These wise men presented gifts of Gold, Myrrh and Frankincense to Jesus Christ. We also know that on the night of His birth, angels appeared to some Shepherds who kept their flock on the field that night and declared the joyful news of His birth and the purpose He shall fulfill in the world, and these shepherds came and worshipped Him. This baby grew up and was anointed by God. At the age of 33, He started His public ministry and performed many signs and wonders, healing the sick, raising the dead, for three and a half years, after which the Jewish religious institution craftily plotted His arrest and crucifixion. He rose again from the death after three days and dwelt with His followers for a period of forty days after which He ascended to heaven in their full view. Hence, we celebrate Christmas today because we know our Lord is alive and is our advocate before God in heaven, for it would make no meaning to celebrate the birth of a dead man. It is therefore interesting to note that Jesus Christ, the one whose birth we celebrate at Christmas, should be the focus of all we do at this time. It is a popular saying that when the purpose of a thing is not known, abuse is inevitable, and this is the case for many who celebrate Christmas without the celebrant, Jesus Christ.

Many objects and traditions have been introduced into the Christmas celebrations, such that the real story we should know about Jesus Christ, the celebrant, is not told. I fear that our children know more about "Father Christmas" or "Santa Claus", than they know about the story of the birth of Jesus Christ. It appears there is a deliberate attempt by a secular culture to take out Christ from Christmas and replace Him altogether with that figure known as Santa Claus. If I may ask, how many symbols, used to depict Christmas really reflect the story of His birth, or that of His person? What symbolism does the Christmas tree represent in the story of the birth of Jesus Christ? Do these matter? Yes they do. The story of Jesus Christ is what should be told this season, and it should reflect in all art works and in all literature centered on Christmas. We can have no Christmas if  Jesus Christ is not the object we celebrate. What would it be like to attend a birthday and all the eulogies are directed to someone else other than the celebrant? I know you know it is always the story of the celebrant that is told in the birthday parties, and not that of someone else, and so must it be at Christmas. Secondly, if we realize that Jesus Christ is the reason for the Christmas season, what should be the manner of celebrations we hold to celebrate Him? Let us see what is the case with other birthday parties. Supposing we plan to hold a surprise birthday party for a friend or colleague, what would be our first consideration? The foremost consideration will be to know the taste of our friend or colleague. We will be interested to find out his favorite colours, his favorite dishes, and even the music he likes. If we fail to factor our friend's taste, the party would not turn out right because our friend would not appreciate that we offer him the things he dislikes. The same should apply about Christmas. We should be interested to know what Jesus Christ likes if we will have a Christmas that pleases and honors Him. I have seen adverts for "Christmas Night Club parties", "Christmas Carnivals", "Christmas street shows", and so on, but we should ask ourselves, would Jesus Christ have any delights in the vain shows of sensuality and lusts? Please read Galatians 5: 19 - 21. There are those that mark Christmas with drunkenness, they drink themselves to stupor all in the name of celebrating Christmas, but would Jesus Christ, whose kingdom shall have no drunkards, have any glory in such celebration? There are people for which Christmas represents a time to wear fancy clothes and show off their worldly affluent, but would He who was born in a humble manger, and lived a humble lifestyle have any pleasure in such proud displays? Whatever we do this season, let's not cease to ask the question, "Does this honor my Lord Jesus Christ, for whose reason I celebrate Christmas?"

What would Jesus Christ like for a Christmas gift? He will like to have people who identify with His mission to save the world (Matthew 28: 18-20). A soul won to Him this period would be His highest gift. He will like to see us love our neighbors and do good to everyone. He will like for us to take care of the poor, the widows, the orphans, the prisoners, the sick and the needy as we celebrate His love during Christmas (Matthew 25: 34- 40). Instead of eating and having constipation this season, we can share with those who have nothing to eat, that would please the Lord Jesus Christ. He would like to have us lay aside our petty sins and return to Him from our backslidings. He will like to see that His great sacrifice for us has not been in vain, that our names our written in the Book of Life (Luke 10:20), and that we are ready to go with Him when He comes to rapture the saints. It will be His greatest pleasure to have us reconciled with God, for this is the real reason He came to the world. Friend, maybe you have celebrated the birthday of the Lord Jesus Christ every year but you know you have been a stranger at this feast, you do not feel that you are one of His own friends which He has redeemed and given the peace with God, may this be a Christmas with a difference for you. You know that it is the close acquaintance of a celebrant that can truly rejoice with him on his birthday party, a stranger would never feel at home there. If you want the purpose the Lord came to be fulfilled in your life, if you want Him to be your Lord, if you want His peace for your soul, His atonement for your sins, His comfort for your broken life, then I encourage you to pray and ask Him to come into your heart. Believe in Him in your heart and confess Him as the Lord of your life from this moment. If you do this sincerely, and in genuine repentance from your sins, I know that you will no longer be having a Christmas without Christ. He will be the object of your worship and celebration at Christmas and always.

My friends, what more can I tell you? I plead with you to consider it very well and be sure that you are not having this Christmas without Christ. Let Jesus Christ be the reason for your celebration. Let His honor be your highest concern in all you do this season, and you will be sure you will have very many blessings this season. Have a merry Christmas and a happy new year.

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