When I went to my DCOM meeting this year, a nice elderly lady gave me a cupcake for dessert with a candle prominently displayed: “It is for Jesus’ birthday!” she told me, proud of her creativity. This Birthday theme has been rattling around in my head since then. It was on the Baptist Church’s sign on our way to Church last night, and then came up again in the children’s sermon.
Is it really appropriate to say “Happy Birthday Jesus?”
Now, I don’t want to sound like a Grinch, but I think that there is a difference between a birthday celebration and the celebration of Christmas. But isn’t Christmas the celebration of Jesus’ birth?
Yes. Christmas is a time when the Church commemorates the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus, however, this is different. As most scholars have determined, Jesus was not born in December (the exact date is unknown), therefore, why would we say Happy Birthday, months late? (how rude!).
Christmas is more than that. Where as birthdays emphasize the day, Christmas emphasizes the birth. It is a celebration, not of the day Jesus was born, but that Jesus was born. Therefore, this morning as we open our presents and perhaps read the Christmas story, let us remember that the day is not important, but it is the birth behind the day.
Therefore, I leave you with my favorite birth narrative, from the Gospel of John:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it…
He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” (John 1:1-5, 10-16 NRSV)