How did December 25 gain its Christian emphasis? Evidently, sometime during the early fourth century, Christians began searching for the proper day to celebrate Christ's birth.
Some churches had been celebrating Jesus' birth on January 6, others April 20, May 20, March 29, and September 29. Finally so much confusion reigned that Saint Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem, about the middle of the fourth century, inquired of the Roman bishop, Julius, regarding the correct date.
Julius wrote Cyril and reported that he personally favored December 25. Obviously refusing to accept this date as valid, Cyril and the Jerusalem church continued celebrating the event for many years on January 6.
In A.D. 354, two years following the end of Saint Julius' reign, the new Roman Bishop, Liberius, ordered all his people to celebrate December 25 as the correct day of Christ's birth. With the passage of time this date became the more popular and was soon adopted by most of Christendom.
This information is interesting, but I often wondered what it would be like had Christ not taken human form as a child, born of a woman. It might go something like this story.
A striking Christmas card was once published with the title "If Christ Had Not Come". It was founded upon our Savior's words "If I had not come." The card represented a pastor's falling into a short sleep in his study on Christmas morning and dreaming of a world into which Jesus had never come.
In his dream he found himself looking through his home, but there were no little stockings in the chimney corner, no Christmas bells or wreaths of holly, and no Christ to comfort, gladden and save. He walked out to the street, but there was no church with its spire pointing to Heaven. He came back and sat down in his library, but every book about the Savior had disappeared.
The doorbell rang and a messenger asked the preacher to visit his poor, dying mother. He hastened with the weeping child and as he reached the home he sat down and said, "I have something here that will comfort you." He opened his Bible to look for a familiar promise, but it ended with Malachi. There was no Gospel and no promise of hope and salvation, and he could only bow his head and weep with her in bitter despair.
Two days later he stood beside her coffin and conducted the funeral service. There was no message of consolation, no hope of heaven.
Let us all remember this Christmas that God took a giant leap down to come be our Savior. God is so gracious and loving to so, so that we can be to others what God is to us; hope in a broken world. Have a blessed Christmas Season.