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Six Reasons to Celebrate Jesus’ Birth

While answers to this question might appear so obvious that it doesn’t bear asking, I invite you to pause this Christmas Eve and actually write down your own answers.  They probably won’t match anyone else’s list and that’s just fine.  What this simple exercise does is bring the life of Jesus of Nazareth, whose birth over 3 billion people celebrate this Christmas season, into our hearts a bit more.

So as we close another year, it is a joy to share with you, my much-appreciated BibleRoads friends, some of my reasons and hope you will share yours in the comments section below.

  • First, I celebrate that God loved His/Her creation enough to send the son who would not be fooled by what his senses told him was ‘real’ – leprosy, deafness, blindness, etc. His example in busting through compelling physical evidence remains an astonishing example to follow.  And where would we be without it?

 

  • Next, I celebrate Joseph, who had the humility to stay on the marriage track with Mary, since he was legally within his rights to have her stoned for a pregnancy that could only be explained through the ‘overshadowing’ of the Holy Ghost.

 

  • Mary is almost beyond comprehension as a teen whose spiritual-mindedness was so developed that she was receptive to the angel’s extraordinary message. She is a model of listening on tiptoe and then being obedient, regardless of how much the message stretches us or goes against popular custom and others’ opinions.

 

Far left end, lower register of the Dogmatic Sarcophagus (before mid-4th cent.): The Adoration of the Magi

  • The Wise Men are particularly appreciated this season since they symbolize the universal appeal of Christ, the divinity of Jesus’ nature. With today’s technology, we increasingly learn just how interconnected our little global village actually is.  I appreciate these insights from a sermon given around 440 CE:

How did it come to be that these men, who left their home country without having seen Jesus, and had not noticed anything in his appearance to enforce such  systematic adoration, offered these particular gifts?  It  was the  star that attracted their eyes, but the rays of truth also penetrated their hearts, so that before they  started on their toilsome journey, they first understood that the One who was promised was owed gold as royalty,  incense as divinity, and myrrh as mortal…and so it was of great advantage to us future people that this infant should be witnessed by these wise men.1

  • The Shepherds are a lesson in preparation. The qualities their profession demanded – to see that those in their care found enough food and water, that they were well-guarded from wolves or thieves who would carry them off, that the animals wouldn’t be overdriven, that the young ones sometimes needed to be carried, not pushed, counting each animal at night as they passed under their hand – were the very attributes they would eventually recognize in the leadership of Jesus over Israel, willing to die for those in his ‘flock’.

 

  • And finally, the foiling of Herod the Great’s scheme to kill off the Christ child before his life’s purpose could be fulfilled. I sometimes forget that the Wise Men journeyed first to Jerusalem and there had that encounter with Herod who thought to use them for his own malevolent purposes. As someone threatened by anything or anyone that would encroach on his power, upend his authority, overturn his sense of reality, Herod is a reverse model for all that we want to rule out of our lives and actions:  jealousy, scheming, deception, and the draining ambition of personal power.  The Magi’s ‘wisdom’ was never more in evidence than when they wisely did not inform Herod of the child’s location and instead returned to their homes, content to have seen him.

This list is far from complete.  Please share what makes you pause this Christmas season in gratitude for all that the Master Christian’s birth means to you.

[1]Sermon by Pope Leo, quoted in “The Magi in Literature”, Robin Jensen, Bible Review, Dec. 2001, Vol. 17, #06.

 


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31 Responses to Six Reasons to Celebrate Jesus’ Birth

  1. Arnaldo December 24, 2018 at 10:31 am #

    I really enjoyed reading your six reasons to celebrate Jesus’ birth. Thank you for sharing them. Merry Christmas !

  2. Glenna December 24, 2018 at 10:54 am #

    Thank you, Maddie, for bringing attention back to the central reason for the celebration, Jesus Christ. As I proceed with the day’s celebratory preparations, I promise to open my thoughts to my six reasons and may bump it up to seven for completeness. Love is the first. That is the central point of Jesus’ message. No matter how we celebrate Christmas, may our hearts be permeated with the spirit of love that Jesus taught and thus demonstrate our discipleship.

  3. Nancy Mooslin December 24, 2018 at 10:54 am #

    I think this list is one of the most complete, clear and compelling statements of the importance of Christmas I have every read. Thank You!! I would not muddy it up with my own comments except to say that I celebrate Christmas because the life of Christ Jesus, his words and works, transform my life each and every day.

  4. Lynn December 24, 2018 at 11:17 am #

    So far I have but two [written before I read your six]: 1. We thank God for sending us the Christ light. 2. We understand and cherish that we are to share the Good News.

  5. Jacqueline Bell December 24, 2018 at 11:23 am #

    Jesus showed us the way to a peaceful life by the truth’s he demonstrated. Also very important to love one another as he loved us.
    To live by the Golden Rule.
    A blessed Christmas to all!

  6. Gerry Johnson December 24, 2018 at 11:25 am #

    I LOVE these. I can share them with my friends of faith regardless of their specific spiritual practices. It can certainly serves as a starting point of a ‘thanks-giving’ discussion.

  7. Shannon Horst December 24, 2018 at 1:41 pm #

    Thank you for the nudge. Shannon

  8. Phyllis W Weil December 24, 2018 at 1:52 pm #

    Thank you so much Madelon for sharing six of your reasons to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I am part of a group that provides a Christian Science service at MCRD, Parris Island, SC and was with 52 Recruits yesterday who are there for Marine basic training. One of the Recruits was interested in gaining a better understanding of the significance of the birth of Jesus. I am looking forward to adding your six reasons to celebrate in addition to what we shared already. I loved your talk last year at 3rd Church N.Y.! Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  9. Robin Clarke December 24, 2018 at 2:10 pm #

    I have loved to consider the actual birthing scene. I picture Joseph lovingly tending to Mary who must have been tired after riding a donkey for days and sleeping on the ground under the stars. Against cultural norms, Joseph must have been with Mary and welcoming their special baby into the world together. Three of my children were born at home and I remember so well the spiritual, quiet atmosphere that was very different from the medical model. Mary and Joseph must have felt so close to each other as well as to Divine Love as they held their precious newborn since they had both been told how important he was going to be to the whole world.

  10. Wendy Manker December 24, 2018 at 6:08 pm #

    Hi dear Maddie. Wendy here in SL on Christmas Eve thinking about what you have asked us to ponder on. I have always felt that there is a story that needs more telling. It is the story of Mary and Joseph. What an extraordinary couple they were. She was only 14. He was an older man with children of his own, obviously a widower. But the minute they started down this holy path together, their lives were as a team, helping to watch this precious Chrst Child and the mission that they had been entrusted with together. From their flight into Egypt and exile there to finally coming back to Nazareth for Jesus to grow into manhood there among family and friends.
    The story of rushing together to find Jesus when they found that he was no longer in the company of travelers who were heading home from Jerusalem, shows how important it was for them to fulfill this mission God had given them in protecting him, nurturing him and cherishing him.
    There is more to this story that I yearn to know but probably will never know, but their qualities of shared persistence, shared nurturing and deeply unselfed lives certainly are qualities we need to ponder on often.

  11. Lynn December 24, 2018 at 6:57 pm #

    I love what you brought out about the shepherds–as a type that illustrates Christ Jesus’ loving care for us, even in this present age.
    A seventh reason to celebrate Jesus’ birth is that he promised to us the Comforter.

  12. Brooks Helmick December 24, 2018 at 7:52 pm #

    I’ve got a 7th
    Listen to Madelon’s talk at Third Church NYC last Easter – here
    http://thirdchurchnyc.com/week-changed-world-good-friday-2018/

  13. Ann December 24, 2018 at 8:01 pm #

    God’s gift—man and the universe. Penned by Mary Baker Eddy and found in What Christmas Means to Me—words by Mary Baker Eddy

  14. Bud December 24, 2018 at 9:28 pm #

    Jesus’ birth is a reminder to me that the Christ comes to us right where we are. It takes the form needed to meet our needs, regardless of any obstacle.

  15. Susan Krevitt December 25, 2018 at 3:43 am #

    Thank you Madelon and All!

    Christmas love,

    Sue

  16. Sandi December 25, 2018 at 5:59 am #

    Thank you, Maddie, for sharing your six, so well thought out, reasons for celebrating Jesus’ birth.
    Before having read them or any of these fine comments, I had thought of what for me are Christmas qualities of those attending Jesus’ birth. Mary’s purity, Joseph’s humility, the shepherds’ joyous spontaneity as they spread the word about what they’d been invited to witness, the wise men’s wisdom. These are not the only qualities for each, but they are significant to me this year.
    So if we are to feel the Lord, Christ, born in our hearts every morning (hymn 170 in the Christian Science hymnal), I can embrace these four qualities as specially attuned to honoring and celebrating Jesus’ birth.

  17. Diane W in Australia December 25, 2018 at 6:00 am #

    Thank you so much for this Madelon! I had not thought to do this! However I do always think about how although the lives of those in Jesus times is so very different to ours, TODAY WE are Jesus disciples..and what a momentous thought…that after such a long history and so many wars and triumphs, disasters and wondrous things, this man Jesus, God’s son, remains the most important and influential person the world has known…and interestingly, he was actually poor and “a homeless person”.
    His ministry was only about 3 years and yet the Truths he taught are what we still live by today , centuries later! Right from the start, his birth, he was proving that NOTHING is impossible to God. Thank you Medelon for Bible Roads and your newsletters which are so appreciated!

  18. Sara Barnacle December 25, 2018 at 8:26 am #

    Would that be Pope Leo XIII, whom Mrs. Eddy chose to eulogize? (My p. 294) Whether or not it is the same Leo, I quote hymn 224: “All good where e’re it may be found, its source doth find in Thee.”

    • Madelon December 25, 2018 at 12:42 pm #

      Great question Sara. The Leo I quoted was the first,from the 4th century, but obviously a much-loved figure with so many Popes taking his name. Pope Leo XIII was her contemporary in the 19th century. Thanks for the reminder of MBE quoting him.

      Christmas blessings to all and thank you for your rich comments and thinking this question through with me. I so appreciate your individual responses.

  19. Leslee December 25, 2018 at 4:35 pm #

    The star 🌟 gives me the hope of its continuing guidance throughout all ages.

    It goes without mentioning that the child of Light ( Christ) opened the way for peace on earth. Childlike thoughts are the thoughts that heal mental darkness, sorrow, evil temptations, fear of death.

  20. Peg Alexander December 25, 2018 at 7:34 pm #

    I love the song they are singing this week “Mary did you know” I disagree with some of the names it gives to Jesus but as the mother of a son it resonates with me. Thank you for all the wonderful ideas and especially, Madelon, thank you for your talks, I am loving my disks.

  21. Ginny Stopfel December 26, 2018 at 2:31 pm #

    Maddie, so appreciate how that you helped us to be grateful for the “characters” represented in this celebratory narrative. A precious Christmas gift. Thanks with love,
    Ginny

  22. Douglas Eastman December 26, 2018 at 4:31 pm #

    1. The lowly, stable birth reminds me of the lowly in heart receptive to the infant Jesus Christ.

    2. The infant Jesus attracted a variety of folks: wise, learned men; outcast, thugs and shepherds;

    3. The innocent, infant Jesus attracted the fear, suspicion and hatred of Herod.

    4. The lowly, pure and innocent Jesus caused a flurry of activity around him: journeys, praises, songs, fluttering of angel’s wings.

    5. The birth of Jesus forever changed the course of history and offered one consistent perspective on life’s meaning and purpose and goal.

    6. The infant Jesus maintained his purity and innocence throughout his ministry which enabled him to discern the needs of human beings and the evil intentions of his detractors.

  23. Diane Sass December 26, 2018 at 11:29 pm #

    Before I read your email, I was doing my own focusing on an aspect of this holy birth that really struck me, especially in light of my daughter’s wedding two weeks ago. Joseph is so often overlooked in the equation. Joseph was presented with a tremendous dilmma. He was told that his pure, untouched fiance was pregnant….and he knew it was not by him. Before he had his vision, he thrashed about, trying to decide what to do. The Bible said he was a just man, but it doesn’t add that his love for Mary was so strong that he wanted to protect her, regardless of the human situation that he was presented with. How often we are presented with seemingly impossible situations to which only God has the answers! When Joseph did see a vision, he had to make the choice to trust. Trust that God had sent the angel message, trust that the message was real, trust Mary that she was still the pure, innocent young woman that he loved, trust that he could and would wait for her, and finally trust that he would be able to raise and protect a child like this one. He had to step aside and accept that God was this child’s father. In a male dominated world, he had to step out of the way and let God work. There are so many lessons in humility and trust and love exemplified by Joseph that I’m truly grateful for, as I celebrate Jesus’ birth.

  24. Sally Smith December 27, 2018 at 6:34 am #

    I love to celebrate the role of angels, those divine messages from God to men, as illustrated in the story of the birth of Jesus. Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds, the Wisemen all heard and obeyed those angel messages which revealed to them the will of God. Angel messages are available to all of us now, and come to us continually, to instruct, guide and reassure us. How important, then, to not only listen for but to obey them!

  25. Linda Worley December 27, 2018 at 6:50 am #

    Thanks so much for this lovely post, Maddie!! All the responses are wonderful, as well. I was interrupted before I could respond and meanwhile, Diane S. expressed my thoughts beautifully! Our Bible Study group here in Tucson pointed out that so many of the significant people in the Bible had unusual births. Also a friend pointed out years ago that Mary was blessed to have the quiet “stable” for the birth of her babe. Often “regular folks” would be crowded in the rooms in the inns. As Diane points out above, certainly Mary and Joseph exemplified the humility, trust and love each of us can express. They provided the care that helped Jesus’ early years before his extraordinary ministry and demonstration of the Christ.
    Blessings on the heads & hearts of all!

  26. karen christian mcmullen December 27, 2018 at 8:42 pm #

    Madelon
    I wrote down 3 reasons to Celebrate Christmas
    1. bring family together
    2. To ponder the Christ
    3. I love to celebrate the music of Christmas. I love that it is played on several radio stations putting the Christmas message out there in the world for weeks. I love that in public places the story of Jesus’s birth is un-apologetically told with song and symphony.

    Then I had to add one more thing after reading your ideas on the Shepherds. For several years a power struggle has gone on between myself and my brother and his family. We own a family business together. I have been striving to understand what is real power, control and authority. It is not supposed to be gender, or position or money but it can sure feel that way. Those who have it seem to be worth more than those that don’t. There seem to be only 2 options to deal with powerless-ness. Be angry about it and try to fight your way to power or to resign yourself to that is just the way it is.

    My bible study group has been studying the book of Samuel. I have been looking to David for an answer. Why is Jesus referred to as the son of David. What is so great about David really? He made A LOT of BIG mistakes. A new idea came to me with your comments. Shepherds exemplify what real leadership qualities really look like – watching out for their flock, wakeful, listening, guarding, guiding, receptive – to hear the angels first, to Fear not, having hungering heart, a yearning, Glorifying God, taking action. What are sheep having no shepherd? They are disunity and confusion. A shepherd brings unity, direction and guidance. When David led like a Shepherd he was successful. When he acted with a false sense of leadership he experienced confusion and failure. When David exemplified true Shepherding he was expressing the Christ idea. That is the house – the consciousness – that brought forth the messiah.

    It is the Holy Ghost and Christ that enables us to express true leadership. Real power is the powerful influence of the Holy Ghost. “a divine influence ever present in human consciousness” A real leader lets himself be influenced by the Holy Ghost by being aware, awake, to its ever presence in consciousness. Ghost is the perfect word for it. The word means wind. We can see the action of the wind but we can not see the wind. Wind is influencing us every minute of everyday, but we can not see it. We certainly see the results but not the wind. So what does real power look like? The powerful influence of the Holy Ghost.

    And the Kings – aren’t they a parallel to the Shepherds? Kings are powerful and seem to be the opposite of lowly shepherds but really They express the same qualities: watching, wakeful, taking action, Fear not, Obedient. These Kings had real power and expressed real leadership. They were really just like Shepherds.

    When we studied Mark Jesus did not reveal himself to those around him for a very long time. ( the messianic secret – I think you called it) Maybe because those around him were not expressing the qualities of Shepherds and so they could not see who he was ie His real authority. They did not know what real leadership, authority looked like.

    So I plan to take this new ideal of real leadership into the next year and see how I can nurture it and bring it up and out in my life. I will be looking for what real power and authority looks like by being a real leader ( a David) – a listener, watcher, awake, caring, guiding, yearning, active, obedient, unifier, glorifying God! I hope to find out how does being a Shepherd give you real authority, real control – not helpless, or a victim of exclusion, not resigned, not power-less. Then maybe I can turn this into an article.

    • Madelon December 29, 2018 at 6:48 am #

      Bless you Karen for thinking this through so deeply. You and your family business and family members will be greatly blessed. The Holy Spirit reigns and our only role is to listen and follow that lead. I love that definition I used for 20 years as a leadership consultant in LA and wherever clients asked me to travel to work with their teams: Leadership is following in advance of others the leadership of God. Blessings in this closing year and for the new year ahead. Thank you for sharing with us all–and thanks to all the marvelous comments readers of BibleRoads has posted. It is a joy to read them.

  27. Don Steckler December 29, 2018 at 5:35 am #

    I celebrate that the substance of Jesus’ birth (i.e. the sparkling and tender and mighty insights Madelon shared) are TIMELESS – – – dominion, humility, receptivity, perseverance, preparation, perception, wisdom, God’s dear love….forever preceded and forever proceed Jesus earthly appearance.

  28. Libby Rupert December 29, 2018 at 8:35 am #

    Maddie, thank you for reminding me to ponder the deeper, true meaning of this season. I have enjoyed reading your thoughts and those of readers who keep adding to the discussion. After much thought, I have these reasons to share:

    1. Celebrating the wakeful, watchful, and receptive shepherds who upon hearing the angel message, swiftly moved to witness the birth. They then left to spread the “good news.”
    2. I celebrate the star, that bright light of hope for all mankind.
    3. I celebrate the love that Joseph had for Mary. So supportive and kind.
    4. I celebrate Mary in being a willing servant to bear and to care for this new idea.
    5. I celebrate the wisemen for their diligent seeking, then honoring, and acknowledging this birth.
    6. I celebrate God who gave all this good and daily showers all mankind with blessings.

  29. Nancy Krause January 6, 2019 at 5:14 pm #

    Why do I celebrate Christmas?

    I can’t begin to imagine what my life would have been like without knowing about Jesus. He was such a role model. His life exemplified His understanding of His Father.

    He healed people of all kinds of illnesses instantly and said we could do the same. I still look forward to following Jesus example. I always remind myself that a challenge to heal is an opportunity to learn more about God and Jesus.

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