Do We Have To?
Understanding Why We Celebrate
Do we have to celebrate the birth of Yeshua?
Of course the answer is no, but we do anyway. Personally, I celebrate his birth because I love having a special season to focus on this marvelous event. It thrills my heart every time I read in the gospel of Luke,
“In the days of Herod, King of Judah, there was a kohen named Zechariah from the priestly division of Abijah. Elizabeth, his wife, was from the daughters of Aaron. Together they were righteous before Adonai, walking without fault in all His commandments and instructions. But they were childless, because Elizabeth was barren and both of them were elderly.” Luke 1:5-7
As I read this passage I recall that Zechariah means “God remembers” and Elizabeth means “God is my oath” so the combined meaning is “God remembers his oath.” God is faithful to his covenants and this was the time for God to send the redeemer – Yeshua the Messiah. I continue reading, once again like a child hearing the story for the first time. What could be more dramatic than the angel declaring, “I am Gabriel, the one standing in God’s presence”? A shiver goes down my spine and I rejoice, almost in tears as I read, “I was commissioned to tell you and proclaim to you this good news.” And I am in tears, because it is good news. Amazing news. It is the good news that the Messiah brought to the world, and to me.
I love to read about Gabriel visiting Mary, the prophetic shout of Elizabeth upon greeting Mary, and Mary’s song, “My soul magnifies the Lord.” I continue reading about the birth of John, the prophesy of Zechariah. Then the story enters a new and even more dramatic level with the birth of Jesus. The angel appears to the shepherds proclaiming good news, and “suddenly a multitude of heavenly armies appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will.” For me, the story culminates with Simeon taking the infant Jesus into his arms and giving the blessing,
“Now may You let Your servant go in peace, O Sovereign Master, according to Your word. For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples: ‘A light for revelation to the nations’ and the glory of Your people Israel.” Luke 2:29-32
I join Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, the shepherds, the angels and Simeon in praising God for the good news. I listen to Silent Night and I celebrate the birth of the King. The story is not over, but has just begun, and my heart has once again been renewed, refreshed and filled with joy.
Do I have to celebrate the birth of the King? No, but I want to, and I do, because it is significant and it speaks to me. Do I have to celebrate the Jewish festivals – God’s appointed times? No, but I do, for the same reasons I celebrate Jesus’ birth. They are significant and they speak to me. I learn, I grow, my faith is renewed and I rejoice in how each festival reveals our King, the Messiah.
My hope is that you learn and grow this holiday season, and every holiday season. Why do you choose to celebrate? How does it speak to you?