“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, 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, good will toward men.’”
“And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.”
The tender mood that claims us today when we are touched by old memories and the gladness of home and the simple delights of children; the angels “bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold” and the shepherds and the Christchild of the beautiful story told to us in Luke 2:8-18 somehow doesn’t seem so far away.
It was December 24, 1998 when columnist George F. Will opined about “The Happiest Holiday”. In his piece he observed, “On Christmas Eve, at the end of the rarely stately and always arduous march that Americans make each year to the happiest holiday, it sometimes seems that they are supposed to celebrate Christmas as though they have agreed to forget what supposedly it means.”
Christmas has not lost its meaning. Don’t let anyone try to convince you otherwise.
For centuries we have taught our children about the wonder of Christmas through symbols and traditions like the fir tree, an evergreen which symbolizes the everlasting hope of mankind.
There’s the star we place atop the tree; a sign of God’s promise of a Saviour.
We teach our children that the candle symbolizes Christ who is the light of the world and the wreath is a reminder that love never ceases because it is a perfect circle. The holly leaf represents the crown of thorns worn by our Lord and the red holly berries represent the blood He shed at His crucifixion.
The candy canes we place in their stockings symbolize the shepherd’s hook and reminds us that we are our brother’s keeper.
The angel we hang on the branch of the tree is meant to remind us that they were the ones who heralded the news of our Saviour’s birth.
The sound of the bell teaches our children about guidance and the return of lost sheep.
The gifts that we give are a symbol of God’s indescribable gift. This is the heart of Christmas. God loved us enough to send his only begotten Son.
Santa Claus is not the center of our celebration, he is merely the humble servant of the One that is.