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. Luke 2:10-11
Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. 2 Corinthians 9:15
During a recent snowstorm I was all curled up in my chair wrapped up in my favorite throw. I was focusing on the falling snow to take my mind off of the fact that there were no Christmas decorations up in my house. I came down with pneumonia right after Thanksgiving and was unable to put up decorations like usual. All I could do was sit and observe the world go by.
So here I was feeling sorry for myself watching huge flakes come down. I had to admit that it was rather pretty and I was glad to be nice and warm instead of being out in it. I was enjoying the beauty of the snow falling gently to earth when something caught my eye.
Out on the sidewalk was our cat batting at the snowflakes as though they were baseballs. Still just a kitten, this was his first snowfall and he didn’t know what to think of it. Without much success he stepped off into the snow and quickly pulled his paw back out of it shaking off the snow. This cold, wet stuff was a new experience for him.
Later in the morning he was finally more used to the snow and began entertaining himself by bounding through the deepest snow he could find. Along with this game he played snowball soccer by batting small clumps of snow around the yard. His new games kept him occupied for most of the day until he was worn out.
His antics made me start thinking about how much I take snow for granted. I wondered what it would be like if I had never seen snow before. Would I be surprised that the snow was cold and wet instead of warm and soft as it appears falling from the sky? Would I be out playing in it delighting in my new discovery?
What about Christmas? What if I had never experienced Christmas before? What would I think about all of the decorations, parties, frantic shopping, overeating, and a schedule that was nonstop? How would the experience differ from what Christmas really is as opposed to how it appears to the world? What if we were able to experience Christmas for the very first time?
Start by thinking back to that night over two thousand years ago. If we think our schedules are busy, imagine what Bethlehem was like that night. I doubt if there was very much goodwill to men. Many of the people who were there for the census didn’t want to be, but were forced to do so. Away from their homes and their livelihood through a decree from and unpopular ruler I doubt if they were in the best of moods.
Think about Mary and how uncomfortable she had to be as she awaited the birth of her first child who would be the Savior of the world. She was forced to give birth in a dirty, smelly environment surrounded by who knows how many animals. Still, it was all that was available and she made do with what was at hand.
Now think about the shepherds out in the field when the angel appeared to them. I don’t know about you, but I think if an angel appeared to me I would pass out in fear. Add to this the heavenly choir singing praise to God and you have a scene right out of a big budget film. It is kind of like Charlton Heston in “The Ten Commandments” parting the red sea.
I am not trying to make fun or downplay such a miraculous occurrence. Instead I am pointing out that it is hard for us to imagine such a glorious event unlike anything that has ever happened. We have nothing to compare it with, because we weren’t there.
What I am trying to do is point out how wonderful it would be if this year we would try to look at Christmas as though it were for the very first time. Christmas isn’t about presents, parties, trees, or anything else this world would lead us to believe. Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ, the greatest gift ever given. It is about hope of eternal life.
Take time this Christmas Eve and read the account of Jesus’ birth in the book of Luke. Take time to see Christmas as if it were the first time. Have a blessed Christmas!