Merry Christmas! No doubt you have heard that many times already. Some folks have already taken down the decorations and put all that behind them until next year.

Merry Christmas! No doubt you have heard that many times already. Some folks have already taken down the decorations and put all that behind them until next year.


However, In the Church Year calendar, today is the third day of Christmas. You know, like in the song, The Twelve Days of Christmas. Society may have started the Christmas season back in October, but in the traditional Church Year calendar observed by many Christians around the world, the Christmas season begins on December 25th and goes up to Epiphany, January 6th. Epiphany is the celebration of the coming of the Magi or Wise Men to worship the Christ child and offer their gifts. So we find ourselves still in the Christmas season.


As I mentioned earlier, that is a tradition. The truth of the matter is that we don’t know exactly when Jesus was born. We do know that it happened around 4 B.C., but they were not using the same calendar we have now back then, and there is no record in Scripture of the date on which Jesus was born. December 25th is simply a day that was chosen by the Church as the time to remember and celebrate His birth.


While we do not know exactly when Jesus was born, we do know that he WAS born. And that is worth celebrating. It goes back to the announcement the angels made to those shepherds: " I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."


A teacher had been trying to get her second-graders to learn some Christmas carols. After a lot of rehearsals, she felt brave enough to take them caroling. They went to a number of places where the people were homebound. After each place, the children talked about how the older folks had smiled as they sang. The children had never seen such smiles.


The last stop was in the community’s only nursing home. There, the teacher, with her charges in tow, wandered the hallways and gave a song at the doorway of each resident. Only then did the teacher notice that one of her more enthusiastic singers had rewritten the words to one of the songs.


Where he was supposed to be singing, "Noel, Noel," (Noel meaning Christmas, or Christmastide), he was belting out, for all to hear: "No hell, no hell, born is the King of Israel."


While that boy didn’t know the correct words, he had the right idea. In fact, he nailed it. His words explain what Christmas is all about, probably doing a better job of explaining Christmas than the original carol. Quite simply, because Jesus Christ, God’s sinless Son, was born, because He completed all the work that was necessary to forgive our sins and save our souls, there is "no hell" for those who believe in Him. That is the saving He accomplished, this "Savior… Christ, the Lord."


I pray that is your joyful certainty and conviction as well. Merry Christmas!


Rev. Michael Mattil is pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Denison.