Just in case you haven’t been watching the everyday yuletide movies on television, Christmas is right around the corner. It’s not just around the corner. It’s on our doorsteps! Many years ago, we held off all the carols, decorating and buying until after Thanksgiving. Not now! Christmas has become such an economic necessity that retailers are already licking their lips as the GDP looks like it’s made a comeback and money is for the making so prepare yourselves for a mountain of Rudolph, advertising and items that you must have in order to fill those stockings and make all your loved ones truly happy!
Please try to remember your old traditions of a real tree, homemade presents and everyone in the family sitting around the living room decorated so wonderfully with candles and lights and listening to Granddad reading, "The Night Before Christmas.” We all waited to hear those special words, “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!” Then, Granddad would say, “Now let me read to you the reason we decorate, sing carols and celebrate.” He would open his Bible — held together by tape because of so much use — turn to Matthew 1:18 and read softly, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way.”
This is my personal opinion, but while I still enjoy the new music, manufactured trees, unbelievable presents, which can make the mouth water, and all the preparation that can stagger the imagination, I really love those days long ago when we didn’t have much money, worked from paycheck to paycheck just to break even and still had the best Christmases ever!
For us, Christmas began approximately 2000 years ago in a quiet, very remote and unknown part of the world. We can read Matthew and Luke as they teach us about the Wise Men, the shepherds, the travel of Mary and Joseph and the birth of the child whose name would be called, “Emmanuel,” translated as written, “The with us God!” This means there is no other, nor can there be another, name to replace His title. Emmanuel says it all. God is not just out there somewhere. God is not remote. God is not behind a door, kept in a hidden chamber or behind some elaborate ritual understood by a select few. God is one of us!
In an act of divine love, God gave Himself to us. He did not come to us as an avatar, a semi-human, an outsider. God came to us as a fully formed human who would know pain, rejection, humiliation, sacrifice and death. God, as a human, would know love, patience, friendship and real honest-to-goodness life. The one we call Jesus would know our strength as well as our weakness. How can we be so certain? Because the Scripture tells us it was so. I need no more authority.
This, my friends, is why Christmas is so special. Well, we have overdone the Old Saint Nick, elves and holiday pressures to the point of insanity, but we will survive as long as we remember this fact: it’s that time of the year which reminds us all that God is with us! I just can’t wait!