And what is the source of such an outpouring of love? While Christmas today has become both a religious and a cultural holiday, it has its roots in the birth of a small Jewish child born of lowly circumstances on the other side of the world. As Christians we proclaim that Christ was born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary, a miraculous birth heralded to the world by a new star shining in the east.
Mary and Joseph had traveled from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth, and into Judea to the city of Bethlehem to be taxed under the decree of Caesar Augustus. Such a journey would have undoubtedly been difficult under normal circumstances, but with Mary so near birth it was all the more challenging. Yet, because the decree had been issued that "all the world" must be taxed, when Mary and Joseph arrived there was no place for them to stay the night. After searching without success, they found kindness in a man that would allow them to take shelter among the animals.
There it was that the young Christ child was born, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and placed in a manger. The Savior of the world, the King of Kings, the long-awaited Messiah, was born without the pomp and circumstances afforded most royalty; certainly not what one would expect for the greatest of all.
I've often wondered what it would have been like to be there at that time. The city was bustling with people, all trying to get their taxes paid so they could return home. As they made arrangements for shelter during their stay, as they bought food and traded goods, were any aware that their King was in their midst? Did they know that this beautiful child lying in a manger would one day be known throughout the world, and be worshiped by billions? Did they know that His doctrines and teachings would spread across the face of the Earth over thousands of years? Did they know that His life would be short and marked by extreme violence, but that He would willingly subject Himself to it so that we may live?
Judging from the historical record which reports only the visitation of the Christ child by humble shepherds, informed of the joyous birth by an angel, and later the visitation by the three magi, clearly the world was unaware of what had occurred. Yet, despite being neither rich nor powerful in the worldly sense, and living barely more than three decades, the carpenter's son would become arguably the most well known figure in all of history.
Centuries later, our nation would be formed as a haven for free will. Its government would be centered around the philosophy that we are each endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, that we have the right to choose our own destiny provided we do not infringe upon the rights of others. Never before had such a philosophy of government been implemented. The government of the United States, based on these Judeo-Christian principles, would become a beacon of freedom throughout the world.
A long and bloody war, the American Revolution, would be fought against a far superior foe, the army and navy of the mighty British Empire, before the rights and freedoms proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence would become secure for the American people. Throughout the war there were numerous examples of what would be called intervention by divine providence. Surely, without such divine aid, victory would not have been possible.
This war was fought that we might be free from the chains of slavery and thus live as sovereign individuals, answering only to our God. Christ was born upon the Earth to free our souls from the chains of sin which bind us to that fallen angel Lucifer, who seeks to make all men miserable like unto himself. As so eloquently declared in The Battle Hymn of the Republic, Christ died to make men holy, so let us live to make men free.
Our Founding Fathers, brilliant men who had studied world history and human nature, had immersed themselves not only in the words of the Bible, but in the writings of greatest historical minds up until that time. And, though varying in doctrinal specifics (or the very divinity of Christ, as with Jefferson), each of our Founders believed the teachings of Christ to be the most capable of producing the civil society in which freedom could be enjoyed and nurtured.
Said Benjamin Franklin: "Whoever shall introduce into public affairs the principals of primitive Christianity will change the face of the world."
Jedediah Morse: "To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom, and political and social happiness, which mankind now enjoys...Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government - and blessings which flow from them - must fall with them."
John Quincy Adams: 'Is it not that in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? --that it forms a leading event in the progress of the Gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer's mission upon earth? - That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity?"
Patrick Henry: "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here."
And finally, the words of George Washington, the Father of our Nation, speaking about Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World: "To the distinguished Character of Patriot, it should be our highest Glory to add the more distinguished Character of Christian. The signal Instances of providential Goodness which we have experienced and which have now almost crowned our labours with complete Success, demand from us in a peculiar manner the warmest returns of Gratitude and Piety to the Supreme Author of all Good."
So this season, let us remember why we celebrate Christmas. Let us honor Him whose name we praise, even Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, our beloved Savior, Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. And let us honor Him as He most wants to be honored; not with speeches and pomp and circumstances (for such was not the nature of His birth nor His ministry), but by quietly aiding the sick and the poor, the lowly and downtrodden. Let us honor him by following His precepts.
Louis DeBroux is a Taylorsville resident, married, with eight children. He is vice chair of communications of the Bartow County Republican Party. He owns Gatekeeper data backup and recovery. He can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.