Celebrate Christ at Christmas
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:13-15)
One of my favorite Christmas songs as a child is one written by Bing Crosby and Carol Richards, “Silver Bells.” This song captures the urban experience of Christmas. For your convenience, I have included the lyrics:
Silver bells, Silver bells,
It's Christmas time in the city.
Ring-a-ling, hear them ring,
Soon it will be Christmas day.
City sidewalks, busy sidewalks,
Dressed in holiday style,
In the air there's a feeling of Christmas.
Children laughing, people passing,
Meeting smile after smile,
And on every street corner you hear...
Growing up in Baltimore at Christmas time was exciting. I recall a department store that would create the best Christmas displays in their window and how the crowds would wait with bated breath each year to see. In fact, stores and advertising agencies would establish the atmosphere for Christmas shopping as early as Thanksgiving. Each year the Thanksgiving Day parade would conclude with Santa Claus on the final float. From that point, the season builds over the next four weeks and concludes on Christmas day.
Because my parents were able to afford the amenities of the season, Christmas for my sister and me was very enjoyable. We had decorations that included Christmas lights, a tree, and the cans of spray snow for the windows. For Christmas dinner, we enjoyed the traditional foods: turkey, ham, candied yams, cornbread stuffing, sweet potato pie, pound cakes, and so forth. Most importantly, this was the time I received new gifts (toys). The process was actually very simple. I would provide the list of my desires to my parents, and they would deliver it to Santa. To receive these gifts, I would have to be on my best behavior until Christmas to assure I received what I had requested.
For me as a child, waiting for Christmas Eve was extremely difficult. I recall once asking my mother if I could go to bed as early as noon on Christmas Eve as a means to speed up the process. Several decades later, things have greatly changed. Both my mom and dad have gone to their heavenly rewards, along with other cherished family members. I no longer reside in Baltimore, and the neighborhood I lived in as a child, should I ever decide to visit, is no longer the same.
Nonetheless, Christmas continues to provide me with warm fuzzy memories and continues to invoke a great level of excitement. Although I love to receive material gifts, my joy is in knowing that God’s gift to the world, the infant Christ whose birth we celebrate each year on December 25th, grew up and carried out his mission of salvation.
Jesus called disciples, taught humanity about heavenly things, died on the cross to pay our sins, was resurrected, and now resides in heaven with the Father interceding for us.
I pray for the many people who do not know the “Christ” in Christmas or get to know our Savior and have a life changing experience. Perhaps God can use us to share the good news with those who don’t know what Christ’s birth is truly about. Nonetheless, for Christ followers, this is our season to share the good news, as we rejoice and cherish God’s great love for us by sending Jesus to save us.