Apart from the Lord's Day, the most important event recorded by the early church was the Passover-Easter, or Pascha. "In the first three centuries, Christ's passion, death, and resurrection were commemorated together at the Pascha." The second in importance was the celebration of the Day of Pentecost, which commemorated both the ascension of Christ and the descent of the Holy Spirit. The third chief event dated as early as the fourth century was Epiphany. This event is closely related to our Christmas today. As Jesus was believed to be conceived on the same day when he died, i.e. April 6, the early church believed that his birth should fall on January 6. Epiphany signified the birth of Christ, to the Magi, to the baptism of Jesus, and Jesus' first miracle recorded in the Gospel of John. It was the day when God manifested to humans, and this day was also called "The Theophany" (manifestation of God). When did Christmas come in then?
Third, when passing the candlelight during the Christmas celebration, other than the "good feeling" it conjured, it is supposed to signify that Christians are called to be light of the world. Whether it is basking in the splendor of the decoration along Orchard Road or the holiday mood generated by the twinkling Christmas tree, I am commemorating the birth of an immensely greater light and in fact the true light of the world. I ought to celebrate the birth of the true light and by celebrating the event, I am called to remember that we have hope (I used "we" because the nature of this hope is corporate, not individual). This hope is given by God though His incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection. This hope is rooted in the past, continuing in the present, and carrying us forward to encounter the future, so this hope has an eschatological dimension. This hope is not to be meant to be saturated by the sign-values of the commercialized world, but to be proclaimed and lived out by every Christians around the globe. As I celebrate this hope in the presence of the Holy Spirit, I remember that because of this hope, I am called to be an imitator of Jesus Christ (1Cor 11:1, Eph 5:1).