The Christmas season is upon us and, depending where you shop, it has been in swing for several days. There are many ways to celebrate Christmas so let us think about some of them.
One of the first harbingers of Christmas is the seasonal music in the malls and stores enticing you to get in the mood and buy. Loosely based on the gifts presented to the Baby Jesus by the wise men, we are encouraged to show our esteem by buying gifts for those we love – a worthy goal. However, it is easy to slide into the mode of money = love. And where do you draw the line? The gift of time and companionship is often much more appreciated than an expensive gift.
Decorated trees and colored lights and ornaments delight the eyes, and holiday icons like Santa Claus, the jolly man who brings gifts to “good little girls and boys,” appear in the malls. (Have you ever known of a child so bad that they received no gifts?) Appearing a few years ago, Santa’s helpers in the form of The Elf on the Shelf assist Santa by residing in children’s homes, flying each night to the North Pole to report on the children’s behavior and returning to the same home before morning each day. What fun it is to locate where in the house the elf has chosen to land and use as his new observation post the following day.
Each family has traditions that add new layers to the meaning of Christmas. Tree-decorating, family dinner preparations and meals, holiday cookies and treats – all increase family time together. At our house when our children were small, my husband would turn out all the lights except those on the tree and looking at a nativity set would read the Christmas story from Luke.
Many churches accentuate the community of believers, and members work together to help others. Our church helps provide toys for less fortunate children, food baskets for needy families and caroling to homebound seniors. We enjoy Sunday School breakfasts and parties, and we decorate the church with poinsettias in honor and memory of loved ones. Small children are encouraged to buy inexpensive gifts for family members at church and learn that giving is as much a part of Christmas as receiving. Joyful youth sing as they decorate the church in the Hanging of the Green service. This year our church will begin a new tradition by decorating a Christmas tree with ornaments to represent each family.
One of the most moving services of the year is our Christmas Eve service. Many members bring visiting relatives and friends to this meaningful candlelight service where with carols, musical presentations, and heartfelt homilies on the meaning of Christmas, we celebrate the holy birth of our Savior.
Hearts are humbled by the realization of how Christ’s coming has altered the world. We worship the God/man-child whom we don’t fully comprehend but in whom we have placed our belief.
Christmas is one of the holiest of occasions when God Almighty presented the world with His own Son. Jesus was given to be born and raised by human parents. He was born to experience human frailties and emotions but with the God-light inside Him and the desire to love and save mankind at great personal cost to His humanness. Loved by many but also rejected by many, all Christ wanted was to make a bridge between God and men by removing our sin from us if we would only believe in Him. Even God temporarily turned His face from Jesus in the dark day of the cross when all sin, past, present and future, rested on our Savior’s torn and beaten body.
So yes, celebrate Christmas for its gaiety, food and traditions, but never lose sight of the tiny baby whose birth foretold of the world-wide revelation of the Heavenly God once more reaching out to each of us.
Give Him love, devotion, honor and gratitude as you answer His call to your heart. Thank God for His unfathomable gift. Share His peace and light with all you meet.
Hallelujah! Our Savior is born!