When Jesus comes the tempters power is broken.
When Jesus comes the tears are washed away.
He takes the gloom and fills the life with glory
For all is changed when Jesus comes to stay.
(Chorus of "Then Jesus Came", a hymn by Dr. Oswald J. Smith)
Over the past 20 or so years what used to be Christmas has become "the holidays." For the sake of political correctness, and indicative of the diminished role of the Church in America, the "holidays" include at least two traditions not always so associated:
Hanukkah "also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple (the second Temple) at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar" (from Wikapedia.com). In 2012, these eight days began on Dec. 8th.
Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University, created Kwanzaa in 1966. Intended to draw attention to African culture, it is to be celebrated for seven days, ending on Dec. 31.
And, of course, we also have the all invasive Santa Claus day.
There may be other traditions that ought to be included of which this writer is unaware, but these will illustrate what "the holidays" have come to incorporate.
In is almost a shame that for centuries Christians have also designated Dec. 25 as the day to commemorate the birth of the Christ. Little is actually known about the exact timing of the birth of Jesus, but it was probably not the Dec. 25 commonly used. Unfortunately the date has been absorbed into "the holidays" and it is too late to change it.
The birth of Jesus of Nazareth, called the Christ, however, is perhaps the most significant event in human history. And, as such, ought to be so remembered. Without Jesus it is today impossible to tell the history of man on earth, and we certainly could not tell of the development of western civilization as we know and benefit from it. Even the New Year approaching cannot be number without His birth, whether that year is referred to as "the year of our Lord" or of the "Common Era."
In high school speech class I was assigned a recitation that might not be assignable (if even known) by high school teachers now. It comes from a sermon by Dr James Allan Francis printed in "The Real Jesus and Other Sermons" in1929. I think it sums up what the Christian remembrance of the Christ Mass Holy Day means to the world.
One Solitary Life
"Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.
"He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself...
"While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth -- His coat. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.
"Nineteen long centuries have come and gone, and today He is a centerpiece of the human race and leader of the column of progress.
"I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life. "