Let’s take a couple of day break from our spiritual gifts study to discuss Christmas. On Christmas Eve 1932, Robert McGimsey attended a midnight church service in New York City and then headed back to his one-room apartment. As he walked the final blocks, he passed the open doors of private clubs where people were shouting and swearing and singing. Others were so drunk they has passed out on the sidewalk.
That night McGimsey wrote his thoughts on the back of an envelope. These words, which were written luike the spirituals he had loved growing up in the southern United States, flowed out of his heart:
Sweet little Jesus Boy,
They made You be born in a manger.
Sweet little Holy Child, didn’t know who You was.
Didn’t know You’d come to save us, Lord,
To take our sins away.
Our eyes was blind, we couldn’t see,
We didn’t know who You was.
The song is an apology for those who celebrate Christmas no recognizing what the holy day really signifies. Let’s not make that same mistake.
When our children were little, each of them had an opportunity to lay in a manger and play baby Jesus. They didn’t know what they were doing, but they played the part well. Of course, there is a narrow window of time when a child can play the part of Jesus. Or is there?
Although we each grow physically and psychologically beyond where we could effectively portray Jesus as a baby, perhaps we should look for opportunities to portray Jesus as the adult child of God that He was. He was no sissy, sending the money-marketers in the Temple fleeing, walking on water on a stormy night, defending the embarrassed adulteress, and ordering demons from possessed people. That is a role model we should each strive to be like.
Who wants to be next to play Jesus?
During the holiday season, an atheistic organization put a sign alongside the community Christmas display in Madison, Wisconsin. It blatantly declared: “In this season of the winter solstice, may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our material world. Religion is but a myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”
On the back of that sign was the warning: THOU SHALT NOT STEAL. Where do you suppose such a statement as that came from? If there is no God, why are they quoting Him? Either there is a God who establishes order out of chaos, or we should let nature take its natural course, which is always chaos. I choose to believe in God but wouldn’t trust the atheists with my sign!
Tags: Christmas, Law, signs, stealing
Back in the Christmas of 1968, I was stationed in the US Army in Augsburg, Germany. It was lonely and I didn’t have any family nearby. I recall taking the Strassenbaum (streetcar) downtown and checking out the Christmas decorations. All the buildings were lit up like in America, and all the shops had a big Christmas sale going on.
I remember being surprised that they shut the downtown streets off to traffic. Couples and families got dressed up in their holiday finest and walked the streets enjoying the Christmas atmosphere. It was very similar to our country, but a lot more casual.
The biggest difference I recall was their depiction of Santa. St. Nicholas wore a long red overcoat with red pants and white fur trim. But Santa didn’t wear the typical “Santa hat”, he instead wore a big high Cardinal’s hat, bright red with white trim.
I suppose many of our western ideas of Christmas came through our ancestors who immigrated from Europe, so its not surprising to see such similarities. What is your experience with Christmas celebrations in another culture?
Tags: Christmas, Santa, tradition
One of my earliest memories of Christmas was a white wire fence my parents put around the Christmas tree. We had a real tree with large colored lights and “Roman candles” with oil in glass tubes that bubbled when it got warm. We also draped tinsel from the branches. It must have been an intriguing sight for a little guy.
I always thought my parents put up that fence to keep my little sisters out of the tree, but Mom informed me they actually bought it to keep me out of the tree! I can’t imagine that being the case, though.
Although our culture is moving away from anything traditional and ritualistic, the one time when that is not true is Christmas. People still want to embrace the old Christmas carols and dig out old ornaments. We still love to remember Christmases past.
What is your favorite Christmas tradition?
Tags: Christmas, tradition
The other week Anita and I went down to the Fire Barn here in Waterloo to watch our grand-kids’ reaction to their first visit with Santa Claus. Raegan, just short of two years old, was not very cooperative. She refused to sit on his lap or have her picture taken with him. She would observe from a distance, but that was the limit.
Of course, Santa was not going to harm her in any way, but she must have thought that in her mind. By the time Christmas actually gets here she will have seen Santa in many other situations and might change her mind by then. Its what we don’t understand that puts fear in our hearts.
So it is with God. When we don’t understand His ways or purposes, we tend to fear trusting Him. We try to hide from Him our real lives. That’s why its important that we understand that Jesus is the Light of the World and came to enlighten us in the ways of God. Let Him turn the light on for you this Christmas.
Tags: Christmas, fear, light, Santa
A family of four drove to the shopping mall to do some Christmas shopping. They decided to shop separately so that the presents they purchased for each other might be kept a secret. Before they split up, the father said, “Let’s synchronize our watches and agree to meet in the parking lot at five o’clock sharp.”
The four adjusted their respective watches. Then the mother turned to the father, and with hand outstretched said, “OK. Now let’s all synchronize our wallets!”
It helps to get on the same page whenever we’re working on a common goal. All the various church denominations would end all their fussing if we all synchronized our spiritual lives to God’s word.
Tags: Christmas, humor, unity