Recently, I was reading about the history of Christmas and where our various Christmas traditions come from, including ones that may have originated in pagan rituals or festivals, and it struck me that one of the most fundamental truths about Jesus is how He accepts each of us where we’re at.
Something I’ve always loved about Christmas is listening to and singing the beautiful Christmas carols that have been written over the centuries. I like them so much that I often listen to them at other times throughout the year. Many are masterpieces and deeply moving. Recently, when looking online for the words to some of my favorites, I was impressed by the beauty of their poetry as well as the power of their purpose in a way I hadn’t been before.
A few years ago, a very talented friend of mine spent untold hours building a wonderfully intricate Christmas model out of salt dough. The centerpiece was the stable, but the scene stretched well beyond that, deep into Bethlehem and the surrounding countryside.
The buildings were painted, the streets were strewn with very fine gravel, there was moss in the gardens and on the hills, and the village was alive with mansions, hovels, shops, inns, and a multitude of people (and stray cats) milling about.
All the works that Jesus did on earth had to be extremely important for the Son of God to come down in order to do them. But when you examine those extremely important things, you see that not all of them were what most people would call “spectacular” in the physical. Many of the things He did—the spiritual transformations—had very little, if any, fanfare. Many of them, like His witness to Nicodemus,1 or forgiving the immoral woman’s sins,2 or His encounter with the woman at the well,3 weren’t outstanding in physical ways.
My entire life so far has been spent in the Northern Hemisphere, and as a result, my body clock is programmed to recognize dropping temperatures and shortening days as sure signs that Christmas is approaching.
I love everything about the Christmas season—the colors, the twinkling lights, the presents, the Christmas trees, the aromas, the smiles strangers exchange, the quality time with loved ones. Most Christmas music is beautiful, but I’ll admit to even enjoying the slightly tacky songs that seem to play on a loop in malls or on the car radio.
I’ve always loved red and green poinsettia plants and assumed that it was their vibrant colors that had earned them a place in Christmas decorations. But there is more to the story …
Mexican legend has it that in the 16th century, a young peasant child named Maria was distraught one Christmas Eve, as she had no gift to lay before the altar of the baby Jesus in her local village church. As she walked to the chapel, saddened that her poverty prevented her from making even the smallest offering, her young cousin encouraged her that whatever she gave from her heart, no matter how humble, would be received by Jesus if it was offered in love.
Let the joy of Christmas touch your soul, whether in the peal of bells, the chorus of songs, or the quiet of your heart. There’s plenty to celebrate: Jesus is born!
The world is filled with the sounds of Christmas. If you listen with your outer ears, you will hear carols, bells, and laughter, and now and then a sob of loneliness. If you listen with the inner ear, you will hear the sound of angels’ wings, the hush of inner expectation, and the sacred sound of the deepest silence, the vibrant whisper of the eternal Word.