Christmas 2023

I am writing to Christian believers who work in the marketplace, particularly in missional businesses – in North America and abroad.  Let’s think of Christmas in terms which might change us a bit – and be a glory to Jesus this year.

The celebration of Christmas started in Rome about 336, but it did not become a major Christian festival until the 9th century.  ”The word for Christmas in late Old English is Cristes Maesse, the Mass of Christ, first found in 1038, and Cristes-messe, in 1131.”1

Encyclopedia Britannica defines the Mass as a “Christian religious service.”  More specifically the mass is the Roman Catholic worship service, focusing on the birth of Jesus approximately 4-6 BC.  So, it is that Christmas signifies the worship of Jesus.

In the Hebrew (Tanakh) Bible, which obviously preceded Jesus physical birth on earth, there is an interesting word. It is AVODAH. “The Hebrew word avodah jointly means work, worship, and service. The various usages of this Hebrew word found first in Genesis 2:15 tell us that God’s original design and desire is that our work and our worship would be a seamless way of living.

In some verses, the word avodah means work, as in to work in the field and to do common labor. Moses, renewing the covenant with God, says, “Six days you shall work (avodah).” – Exodus 34:21. “Then man goes out to his work (avodah), to his labor until evening.” – Psalm 104:23

In other verses, avodah  means worship, as in to worship You, O God. “This is what the LORD says: Let my people go, so that they may worship (avodah) me.” – Exodus 8:1

“But as for me and my household, we will serve (avodah) the Lord.” – Joshua 24:15

Avodah is a picture of an integrated faith. A life where work and worship come from the same root. The same foundation.  It Means to Live a Seamless Life of Work, Worship, and Service2.

  1. Martindale, Cyril Charles. “Christmas.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 3. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. <>.
  2. Burkhart, Austin. “Avodah: What it Means to Live a Seamless Life of Work, Worship and Service.” Institute of Faith,   Work and Economics, March 31, 2015.

Larry W. Sharp, BAM Support Specialist, IBEC Ventures

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