Not all who sing Christmas carols are Christians. Superficial sentiment is sometimes substituted for genuine faith.

Take Clovis, for example. After the breakup of the Roman Empire, disorder reigned. Anarchy prevailed. Fifteen-year-old Clovis inherited a small kingdom in the corner of Gaul. King Clovis seized adjoining lands, united Gaul, moved his capital to Paris, and founded the nation of France.

In 493 Clovis married a Christian. When Queen Clothilde wanted to baptize their newborn son, Clovis agreed; but when the child died in his baptismal robe, Clovis blamed the Christian God. When a second child grew ill following baptism, Clothilde prayed earnestly, the child recovered, and the king was impressed.

When Clovis was 30, he was routed in battle. “Jesus Christ,” he cried, “Clothilde says you are the Son of God and can give victory to those who hope in you. Give me victory and I will be baptized!” The tide turned, and Clovis, true to his word, entered the Cathedral of Rheims on December 25, 496. “Worship what you once burned,” the priest told him, “and burn what you worshiped.”

On that day 3,000 troops followed Clovis in baptism. The army marched alongside a river where priests, chanting the baptismal formula, dipped branches into the stream and flung the water supposedly making them Christians.

This was a momentous day in church history, for it was the first of the great mass conversions that turned Europe into a “Christian” continent. Little change was detected in Clovis or his troops who were as pagan as ever, apparently viewing Christ merely as a war god who insured them victory. But the stage was set for many genuine believers who spread the message of the Babe of Bethlehem throughout emerging Europe.

The angel told Mary, “Don’t be afraid! God is pleased with you, and you will have a son. His name will be Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of God Most High. The Lord God will make him king, as his ancestor David was. He will rule the people of Israel forever, and his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:30-33)

Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). Dec. 25.

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