Don’t you love our English language and all those homonyms, homophones, homographs and heteronyms? Do merry, Mary and marry have anything in common? What do all three have to do with Christmas, if anything?
“Merry Christmas!” You’ve probably heard that greeting several times so far this month. Why is Christmas supposed to be merry?
Our Christmas celebration today comes from several different pagan origins. (Christmas actually has nothing to do with Christ!) The idea of a merry holiday started with the Roman Saturnalia feast celebrated from Dec. 17-24. It basically was a wild time. Schools were closed, no punishment was given, social ranks were forgotten, gambling with dice was permitted (it was illegal the rest of the year) and everyone gave gifts. When the Saturnalia morphed into Christmas, the merriment came with it.
Mary was the virgin mother of Christ. God sent the angel Gabriel to tell Mary that she was going to give birth to Jesus.
“The angel said to her [Mary], ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women...Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end’” (Luke 1:28-33).
How incredible to read that. Can you imagine what was going on in her mind? I can't imagine how I would feel if an angel appeared to me and said, “You are going to give birth to the Son of God!” But Mary didn't question God, she trusted Him.
Evidence points to the fact that Christ most likely was not born in winter. But no matter when His birth was, what would Mary think of the merry celebrations? I don't think she would appreciate the birth of her Child, the Son of God, being associated with wild pagan celebrations.
Jesus Christ is going to return and marry His Bride. The Church, God’s people, are to be His Bride.
“And I [the apostle John] heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, ‘Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.’ And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”
This should be our focus, on Christ, His coming Kingdom, and whether or not we are ready to be His Bride. Notice that it said, “His wife has made herself ready.” We need to become the Bride that Christ will be seeking at His return. How do we do that? For starters we need to keep God’s commandments and Holy Days, not the days of man that go against God (like Christmas). We need to understand what it will mean to be in the God family, and that understanding starts with our earthly marriages and family. We need to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,' and 'your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). We need to continually be preparing ourselves for Christ’s return.
What should we be thinking on this time of year, or, really, all year long? Answer: the Kingdom of God, the time when we will be Christ’s Bride. We need to throw away the traditions of men (see what God says in Deuteronomy 12:32) and start preparing for the Kingdom of God.