The real meaning
It is Christmas time once again, which in my book, is the most wonderful time of the year! It is a time when family and friends come together around the table and enjoy great food and friendly talk. Now, with the weather changing, there is a good chance that someone has lit a hearth fire which is fiercely burning in the family room.
Growing up as a young child in 1965 I could hardly wait to see “It’s Christmas Time Charlie Brown” making its debut on our small TV set. What a treat it was to watch the animated characters trudge through the snow in search of the true meaning of Christmas. Charles Schultz beautifully brought to light how society had become so fixated on all the trappings, that the true meaning had been lost and left behind. The sound track was providentially written by Vince Guaraldi who brought to life the animated characters with tunes that included titles like “Linus and Lucy”, “Skating” and “The Great Pumpkin Waltz”.
How wonderful it is to get all the Christmas decorations down from the attic and begin sorting through the colorful lights, displays and ornaments. It brings back good memories of family and friends that warm the heart and remind me that I will once again see all the beloved who have passed on into eternal life.
I do have one future Christmas “Bucket List” festivity left to come true; that I could spend the Christmas holiday up in the mountains and have it snow. There would also have to be a sleigh that was pulled by a team of Clydesdales, complete with jingle bells tied around their feathery hoofs. A bonus might be an insulated cup full of steaming hot spiced cider or hot buttered rum.
While it is entirely all too easy to get caught up in the gift buying and spending, I believe it is necessary to re-center ourselves by meditating on what the true meaning of Christmas is all about. Christmas through the ages has been a time when we choose to remember the birth of the Messiah or Christ child.
We have a family tradition where we read from the gospel of Luke chapter 2 every Christmas Eve. Everyone looks forward to the time when all the dinner dishes have been cleaned and put away and we all turn to the family room and the sit around a warm fire to listen to the words recorded 2000 years ago.
“And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.
Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”.
How glorious is the gift that God has given the world that makes angels sing and men repent and turn towards God. So important is the virgin birth of the Messiah that it was foretold 750 years before by the prophet Isaiah, who recorded it in Isaiah 7:14, then expounded and described the gift of the Son and His destiny in Isaiah 9:6,7. Equally important, the prophet Micah would predict His birthplace, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”Micah 5:2.