OK, so shameless plug here. I received Christmas early. Last week actually.
Wipf and Stock publishers decided to republish Bizarre Bible Stories and Bizarre Bible Stories 2! Yippee!
And, Bizarre Christmas Bible Stories is out for just $9.99 at Barnes and Noble. Also Yippee!
But, what if there was NO Christmas?
Hang on to your seat. It looks like archaeologists have found Santa’s tomb.
So much for setting out cookies and milk.
Archeologists believe they’ve found the tomb of Saint Nicholas underneath a Byzantine church in Turkey. The real Saint Nicholas lived between 270 and 343 AD. He inherited a lot of money that he gave away to the poor, and he was buried under a church that flooded in the Middle Ages. They built another church on top of the original church foundation, so his tomb wasn’t discovered until recently.
But here’s the thing. Over time St Nick, as in the real Saint Nicholas, has faded from memory. This may shock you, but the real St Nick didn’t live at the North Pole, and the generous guy had no reindeer. Had he never existed, Christmas might be a little different, but there would still be Christmas. Christmas doesn’t depend on St Nick, great though he was.
Christmas depends on Jesus.
But what if there had been no Jesus, no first Christmas?
If we had some kind of super-magnet that could remove all evidence of the life of Christ, what would change? There would be no Christmas of course, but also no AD dates, no Santa Fe or Santo de Cristo Mountains here in New Mexico; no Salvation Army bellringers, no Red Cross, no Samaritan’s Purse, no Presbyterian Hospital, no Harvard or Yale, and no churches. None of these would exist except for one man who never had much money, or an army, or a home.
But there was the first Christmas. Jesus was raised on the run and died a criminal at age 33 in a small city just five miles from where He was born. He was born in poverty and died washing the feet of the one who would betray Him. And we have found his tomb too. But His is empty.
And that changed everything.