Out of them shall come songs of thanksgiving, and the voices of those who celebrate. I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will make them honoured, and they shall not be small. Their children shall be as they were of old, and their congregation shall be established before me, and I will punish all who oppress them. Their prince shall be one of themselves; their ruler shall come out from their midst; will make him draw near, and he shall approach me, for who would dare of himself to approach me? declares the LORD. And you shall be my people, and I will be your God. (Jeremiah 30:19-22)
Two more sleeps!
But while we are waiting, here is yet another question to consider: Why do we celebrate the birth of Jesus?
Much is made of family get-togethers and feasting at Christmas time, but when we read the biblical narrative of Jesus’ birth, there is nothing about family gatherings or partying.
(Although one could suppose that with the census and all of David’s lineage gathering at Bethlehem, it could have been one very large extended family gathering.)
So should we remember this momentous event in the way we have become accustomed?
The concept of feasting and gathering together is not foreign to God’s people. The Old Testament features various feast days, and Jesus himself participated in a banquet held in his honour (Luke 5:27-29). The biblical feasts were a means by which the Israelites could not only acknowledge God’s deliverance, but also express their thankfulness for his provision and the favour shown towards them.
While the feast days were often solemn occasions and sometimes incorporated a sacrifice for atonement of sins, they were also times of gladness and rejoicing.
We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on 25 December, or on 26 December in my family’s case. The day and date is of no consequence, but the purpose of the celebration is.
How can we not celebrate and be glad and rejoice in the good news the angels brought to the shepherds: that in the babe of Bethlehem, Jesus the Saviour, God has made all the provision necessary to bring us into his family…to fit us for heaven to live with him there.
Away in a manger Casting Crowns