In 1870 President Ulysses Grant and the Congress declared Christmas day, Dec. 25, a federal holiday to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ.
Christmastime has always had a special place in the American heart primarily because the vast majority of Americans who identify themselves as religious are Christian.
God gave His son as a sign of His love for all people, and today, even the most commercial part of the season, the gift buying for friends and family, exists because people want to show their love for others by giving gifts. And quite frankly, the commercial part of Christmas is critical to our economy and provides jobs for millions for people.
I have had the pleasure of traveling to the Holy Land on many occasions and one of my favorite places to go is what is known as the Shepherd’s Fields just outside Bethlehem. It is the place or near the place where the “angel of the Lord” appeared to the shepherds to announce the birth of Jesus. Last time I was there I actually saw a shepherd herding sheep. He has modern day clothing on, no robe, but he did have a staff. The Gospel of Luke says this is what happened on that night over 2,000 years ago: “An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today, in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.’”
Take note of the words, “Savior,” “Christ,” and “Lord,” all used by the angel. Remember, the angel was speaking for God Almighty. Let that sink in. God himself, through His angelic messenger, called Jesus these names. Let’s take a look at these three words.
In the Gospel of Matthew an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph when he was contemplating divorcing Mary because she was pregnant and the baby was not his child. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him saying: “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you will give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.” Thus Jesus is often called “Lord” and “Savior” by Christians because he saves people from the condemnation of their sins.
The word “Christ” comes from christos, a Greek word meaning “anointed.” It is the equivalent of the word mashiach, or Messiah, in Hebrew. So, to be the Christ, or Messiah, is to be “the anointed one of God.”
The word “Lord” refers to one who has authority or control over something. In reference to the angel calling Jesus “Christ the Lord,” to the shepherds he was saying that Jesus Christ is Lord of everything. He is the ruler of the universe. This brings into play the mystery of the holy trinity, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, which is a concept the Bible teaches but is impossible for man to fully understand. “The Godhead three in one,” is an expression Christians have used down through time.
All this is why we sing, “Joy to the World,” this time of year. The Lord has come, let earth receive her king and indeed … let every heart prepare him room.
Merry Christmas to you and your family!
Community columnist Tim Wildmon is a Lee County resident. He is president of the American Family Association, but the column represents his personal opinion unless otherwise noted. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.