Saturday, December 19, 2015
HAS THE CHRISTMAS STORY BEEN FORGOTTEN
Watching the hub-bub at the mall, the endless commercials, the stress and frustration in peoples faces, one might come to the conclusion that YES, the celebration of the arrival of the Prince of Peace has taken a back-seat.
But, I can't read the minds of those harried shoppers and crazy drivers. I don't know what is going on in their heart, but I DO know what's going on in mine. And to that I can speak!
Christmas, it's meaning and ways I've celebrated has evolved over the years. But, even as a child I was VERY aware of the STORY. I spent hours practicing on our old upright piano so I could get "O Holy Night" and "Silent Night" just perfect. There was no performance as I recall, but a deep sense of worship even as a youngster as I pounded out the tune while singing like a wolf howling at the moon. The WORDS were planted deep within me and I could easily envision the stable, the star and the savior. My extended family ALWAYS gathered on Christmas Eve to exchange gifts and eat Granny's pies. The love present in that little five room block house was thick and wonderful. There was certainly something magical about those evenings. Family was an important element of the celebration.
An ugly old prickly cedar tree set up in the tiny living room became the focal point of joy. And there was always a "Christmas Program" put on by the cousins as the adults laughed and clapped.
As time passed and we grew up, married and moved away from that little block house, we made new traditions, but the STORY always held a prominent place. One year our eldest at age 3 recited Luke 2 from memory at our church service. We'd practiced for months with pictures of stick figures and barely recognizable prompts to learn the words. Church at Christmas time was not an option and the story was discussed and re-enacted year after year.
As the boys grew and married and started making traditions of their own, we continue to celebrate with the same amount of awe and wonder. Gifts are always given as a outpouring of love, a small symbol of the love out poured by God in Bethlehem long ago. Church services, cantatas, orchestras and solos again bring all the words to those beautiful Christmas songs back to my mind. They are O Little Town, Hark the Herald Angels Sings, While Shepherds Watch, O Holy Night, Silent Night, Joy to the World, O Come All Ye Faithful, The Hallelujah Chorus and now my new favorite Mary Did You Know? The story is repeated vividly and clearly in song and in reading and hearing Luke 2, again and again. I NEVER tire of it.
Family traditions change, new people are added by marriage and birth, and older loved ones pass away. As important as family is to the celebration, people and circumstances change, BUT the story never does.
The main person of the story is unchangeable, reliable, forever faithful, kind, forgiving and eternally present with me.
As I study our present day culture, perhaps our nation as a whole has forgotten the STORY. I wonder how many children have never heard it, how many parents don't bother teaching it, how many young adults are wondering around looking for love and forgiveness and unconditional acceptance in drugs, relationships, endless entertainment, financial pursuits, and constant busyness.
Yet I marvel at the outlandish ways CHRISTIANS celebrate all December, hoping that those that need HIM will stop and question all the over-the-top events and realize HE'S available for them, too.
He IS known and remembered and celebrated by many. Many folks I know personally are very aware of HIS peace that passes all understanding regardless of their circumstances.
He's come once to show us the way and He's coming again one day as the righteous judge. (Soon, I hope!) Then ALL wrongs will be made right, evil will have it's final fling and there will be NO DOUBT of His identity. He will no longer be ignored by any individual or culture, everyone will see HIM and everyone will kneel, either in worship or regret.
Perhaps THEN the question will be answered once and for all.