I’ve always wondered about celebrating Christmas as the birthday of Christ. We don’t know exactly when he was born. Why would he need a birthday party thrown by human beings who could offer him nothing? Wishing him a “happy” birthday seemed especially over the top – his birth brought him nothing but betrayal and an agonizing death.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas and the fact that for a moment in time, the Christian world is unified in its focus. Emmanuel, God with us, gives me comfort and hope every day of the year.
But this year, the thought of a birthday has taken on new meaning.
It all started with our church’s Christmas presentation of “The Nativity Symphony,” and the song “The Birthday of the King.” Part of the song was a Celtic carol to be played on uilleann pipes, but, well, have you ever tried finding an uilleann pipe player in the middle of the desert? Instead, the song would be played on my favorite instrument, the penny whistle.
As I studied the music and meditated upon the words of the song, it suddenly hit me. The acknowledgement of his birth-day is the acknowledgement of the fact and necessity of his birth.
It doesn’t matter when Jesus was born –
it matters that he was born.
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light. (Isaiah 9:2)
The fact that he became a human being, God in human flesh, is a nonnegotiable tenet of the historic Christian faith.
- Without his birth, there could be no perfect human life, the only eligible sacrifice for the sins of the world.
- Without his birth, there could be no substitutionary death, receiving in my place the punishment I deserve for my sins.
- Without his birth, there could be no resurrection, a guarantee that believers will one day live eternally clothed in his righteousness.
- Without his birth, there would be no opportunity for our own rebirth, offering him nothing more and nothing less than our humbled hearts.
And so, acknowledging his human birth-day is acknowledging the fact that he stepped out of eternity and into our physical time and space, to rescue us from ourselves and from the enemy of our souls.
And that, my friends, is a birth
worth celebrating every day.
The Birthday of the King
Words and music by Jeromy Deibler and Chris Eaton
The hour has come, this Christmas night,
to share again in love’s delight.
Sweet carols’ song by candlelight,
the world will rest in peace tonight.
And, for a moment in time,
all of creations joins to sing.
We gather ‘round the favored One,
and welcome in this gift of life.
The faithful daughter, the wayward son,
all find a place in Him tonight.
And for a moment in time,
all of creation joins to sing.
The love of God that covers all,
once hidden in a manger stall,
has been made known, alive in us.
From Bethlehem and to the cross,
the Savior born to die for us.
All of creation joins to sing,
Throughout the nations, anthems ring.
Our humble hearts, the gifts we bring
to celebrate the birthday of our King,
to celebrate the birthday of our King.
Song copyright 2011 New Spring (ASCAP)