I love Christmas. I love
the tinsel and the lights. I love the music and the hustle of shoppers
scurrying through the malls. I love the smell of cookies and apple sauce
cakes being baked. I love the church services as they relate the story of
the Christ Child with the Magi visitors. Come to think of it, whatís not to
like about Christmas?
I remember growing up in a small town where except for the high school
sports program time passed and seasons changed without much ado. The river
passed through silently going on its way to the Ohio except for the spring
months when it was likely to spill over its banks and raise havoc with the
streets and low lying homes. Farmers bringing their crops to town on
Saturday and stock yards holding a sale once a week was the time when
everyone caught up on the local news and gossip. The only local newspaper
was a weekly and by the time it was printed up, most of the news in it had
been talked out and was too old to bring up again. Men looked forward to the
different hunting seasons and just about every male old enough to sneak out
the back door with their fathers hunting rifle took part in it.
Then came Thanksgiving. As if some magician had swept a wand over the town,
it burst into Christmas. All the stores and streets were decorated with
lights and ornaments signaling the arrival of that single blessed day. All
of the Christian churches and a lot of businesses had nativity scenes on the
front lawns. Of course that was in the days when the ACLU and the Supreme
Court were busy interpret the law instead of creating it. One store I
remember in particular was the F.G. Lobban Furniture Store. For eleven
months the second floor of Lobban Furniture was storage space, but after
Thanksgiving it became toyland. Row after row, table after table, filled
with every toy on the market. Children with eyes agape walked slowly down
each aisle, anticipating all those toys being under their tree come
Christmas morn. For many years Howard McVey would bring to Lobban'sí his
private collection of Lionel Trains and have them operating in the main
window of the store. I could go on and on with my memories, but space would
not allow it.
I have often wondered what it would be like if there was not a Christmas. I
mean, what if we woke up on December 25th and it was just another day. You
get up and get yourself a slug of coffee and get the morning paper and
except for the fighting in the middle east and the most recent crime wave to
hit town, nothing much going on. Itís football bowl season, maybe. There
would not be any Christmas tree, decorated and abounding with wrapped gifts
beneath it. No Christmas music on the radio. No stopping to go thank God for
sending his Son as the ultimate gift.
What about the world situation. The middle east war would be happening for
sure because the descendants of Esau and Jacob are still fighting over who
was the actual blessed son of Abraham and Isaac. Both using every tactic in
the book to try to convenience the world that they are the true believers
and followers of God. Would we have progressed into the modern world we see
before us or would the leaders of the two camps keep the population living
as they do in most of the middle east countries today? Come to think of it
that hasnít changed in the last five thousand years.
What about the class wars? The rich and powerful are still rich and powerful
and the poor are still trying to eke out a day to day existence. Would we
still be building bigger and taller pyramids? They donít call them Pharaoh
any more. They call them CEOís of Enron and such. Well that hasnít changed
much either, has it? Why is it that some of the richest countries in the
world, who have as much or more natural resources than the United States,
still live in backward standards and abject poverty?
Except for a precious few things the world hasnít changed much, except for
that one incident in Bethlehem some two thousand years ago. That birth did
not bring us wealth and riches. It did not bring us world goods or favors.
So what did it bring that would make it worth celebrating. Hope, my friends.
That one spark that makes a slave as powerful in his mind as his master.
That part of our being that lets us live each day rich in the feeling that
our stay on this planet can be better today. No matter how bleak our
tomorrow looks, it will be brighter because a Child will lead us through it,
and give us a peace that will pass all understanding. That birth, gives us
hope of a life after this one is given up, and knowing that we will be going
to a place where we will all be rich.
This morning I woke up to just an ordinary day. I got a cup of coffee and
checked the news to see how the world survived the night. On December 25th I
will wake up to the flurry of opening Christmas presents and seeing the joy
of the faces that are on the receiving end of the brightly wrapped gifts. I
will throw a great feast for the family to show them my love and joy of
having them with me on this special day. Before bedtime on that night I will
silently thank God for his wonderful gift. Sending his Son to a planet of
backward standards and abject poverty. To give us hope and promise, for
today and the life to come.