If there’s anything that inspires nostalgia in me, it is the Christmas season.
My memories range from my sister and I getting up at 3:00 a.m. to see what Santa brought (now you see why I get up so early), on to my first Christmas with my new bride, and then to a post divorce Christmas with a new lady, when I took her girls to find a Christmas tree on a snowy evening, while she stayed behind and baked.
How about you?
I remember in (public) grammar school the big Christmas tree, and the holiday ceremonies where the student body (yes including me), sang Christmas carols including all of the best known Christian hymns. That’s right, in a public school we sang songs that praised the Lord and worshipped the birth of our Savior, and had the audacity to refer to the holiday as Christmas. I remember the janitor/bus driver playing Santa Clause. All 130 pounds of him with his red hair clearly showing under his white wig. Christmas was fun.
As a side note, that old school of mine was attended by both of my parents, and my sister as well. It remains today, while old and seasoned, as a youth developmental center for those with learning disabilities.
I really don’t have many personal memories of any religious Christmases. I seem to remember going to one Christmas service in the church we belonged to, but I am not even sure I am remembering correctly.
Like a lot of Americans, I have my favorite Christmas movies and TV shows. Many of my favorite movies are traditional. Holiday Inn, White Christmas, Christmas in Connecticut, It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street and so forth. I have seen every version, be it TV or movie, of a Christmas Carol (or Scrooge) ever created. I would imagine most people today would say that Chevy Chase’ Christmas Vacation or the TV movie A Christmas Story was their favorite Christmas comedy. For me it is hands down the (1950ish) Bob Hope, Marilyn Maxwell comedy called The Lemon Drop Kid. Despite its name, it is a Christmas movie. The song Silver Bells was introduced by Hope and Maxwell in that movie.
What are your favorites?
Whether you celebrate the secular/family Christmas (I’ve had Jewish friends who do), the Christian holiday, or both, there is an atmosphere that is beyond description this time of year. A busy time, that suddenly turns to quiet in the wee hours of Christmas Eve.
Most Christians think little about the actual occurrence of the birth of Jesus. Mary was chosen by God as the one and only to carry Jesus into the world. She was clearly, special beyond words. She was visited by an Angel and given the message of her journey that was to come. She had FAITH. Even Joseph was chosen by God. He was visited by an Angel in a dream to tell him so. Both carried the blood of David in their veins and that was important, and especially so with Mary. They both had the Faith needed for their precious mission.
Why David? Maybe some of you know better than I, the reasons why God chose David to be the center of the bloodline of Jesus. This I do know. There is much to be learned by His choice. David was called a man after My own heart by God, but he was not perfect. At one point as king, David called for the killing of innocent people including children. This was not a “casualty of a righteous war”, it was horrific. In fact David failed time and again. Still God, recognized the potential and the goodness in David. God never gave up and never seemed to doubt that goodness.
He can do the same for us. You cannot be bad enough for God to quit on you! I know many non-Christians and Christians alike don’t buy that. It’s true. Salvation is waiting for everyone, no matter how horrible your past. You only need to accept and believe, what Jesus did for us, when He took the wrath and punishment that we all deserve on His shoulders, so you would have a chance to be free. To sincerely accept what He did, and to repent of your sins, is to have eternal life. It only takes faith.
Now, back to where I was.
They traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem firstly because it was the City of David, and secondly because they needed to leave where they were. Remember, Mary was pregnant but unwed. That was considered shameful and was punishable by death. You can now see, the importance of the Angelic visit to Joseph. His young romantic interest (Mary) was with child, but not by him. He needed to understand she was with child by God’s (through The Holy Spirit) choice.
Mary and Joseph were eventually married before the birth of Jesus, and yes, as the Bible tells us, Mary went on to give birth to several purely mortal children. Three or four more sons including the Apostles James and Jude, and at least two daughters. We know that last part because the term daughters (plural) is used in the Bible. In the language of man, they could be called half brothers and sisters to Jesus.
Let us all remember the Godly purpose for man’s creation of the Christmas holiday. The birth we celebrate is that of the only One, who can save mankind. You cannot buy salvation, you cannot earn salvation, it is a gift brought to us through the Son of God, who gave everything, so we could have eternal life. All we need to do is ask. He suffered the punishment and the burden of our sins for us. What is asked of us is not easy, but it is incredibly simple.
18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about : His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.
19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. (divorce means to separate or leave her alone)
20 But after he had considered this, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew, or Joshua in Greek), because he will save his people from their sins.
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
23 The virgin will conceive and give birth to a Son, and they will call Him Immanuel” (which means God with us”).
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.
25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
Luke 1: 78, 79
78 Through the tender Mercy of our God, whereby the Dayspring (Christ) from on high has visited us
79 To give Light to them who sit in the darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of Peace ( Jesus is the Light and the Peace )
O Holy Night
O holy night the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new glorious morn
Fall on your knees
O hear the angels’ voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born
O night divine o night
O night divine
Have a very Merry and Joyful Christmas, and may God Bless each of you,