Thursday, 1 December 2016
"For we need a little music, need a little laughter,
It was a couple of days before Thanksgiving. On the way home from work, I stopped to pick up a prescription and a few groceries at Walmart, enough to get me through the week. No way was I going near that place until well after Thanksgiving. Apparently, I wasn't the only one thinking ahead, because the store was bustling with activity as people were buying what they needed for their holiday meal and the workers were busy stocking shelves in preparation for Black Friday. I hurried through to get what I needed and headed out the door.
As I pushed my cart through the parking lot toward my car, I hear this very young, but very loud, voice saying, "Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!" I look over and see a young boy, about 3 or 4 years old, sitting in a shopping cart. As his mother pushes the cart down the aisle, he keeps repeating, "Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!" and he stretches out his arms every time he says it. I realize he is trying to get my attention. His face was so sweet and full of joy, full of the excitement of Christmas. I started laughing and I waved to him, saying "And a Happy New Year, too!" He gave me a wide grin and then spied another group of people getting ready to walk past him. "Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!" No one in the group even looked in his direction. They were actually closer to me, on my side of the parking aisle, so as they approached I pointed over to him and said "Hey, Merry Christmas!" Again, no reaction as they kept on walking past us. I looked over at the little boy and shrugged my shoulders. "Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!", he continued to exclaim. He wasn't going to let their disinterest hinder his desire to celebrate the season.
That young man melted my heart that day. I had been feeling a little Scrooge-ish about Christmas. Nothing about it excited me. I dreaded even the thought of putting up the tree and decorations. I had been a regular bah-humbug up until then. But something about that little boy's joy melted my heart, much like the song of the Whoville residents caused the Grinch's heart to grow as he learns that Christmas is about more than presents and feasting. It's about the love and joy we can have, no matter the season. It's about the awe and wonder we should always have about a God who sends His only Son as a newborn baby. It's about a Son who will grow up and give His life to save ours. Yes, I know that December 25 wasn't the actual date of his birth. Biblical scholars and historians believe it occurred in the Spring. Who cares? It's the date that, down through the centuries, mankind has traditionally chosen to celebrate this great event, and we should celebrate it.
Luke 2:8-20 -- 8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger."
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
14 "Glory to God in the highest,
15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us." 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.
From what I have read about this time period, shepherds were considered in the lower classes of society and even thought of as untrustworthy by many. They rated right up there with tax collectors. Shepherds were blue collar workers doing a job nobody else wanted to do and frankly, they were lucky to have a job because no one else wanted to hire them. They were isolated from the rest of society, spending their time out in the fields with the sheep and no one to talk to except each other. You could say they were outcasts. Yet they were chosen to be the first people to hear the Good News that Christ the Savior, who would be a shepherd to His people, was born that night.
The scripture says that after the shepherds went into town and saw Jesus, that they were telling everyone in town what they had been told about the Child. They went back to their fields glorifying and praising God. Everyone who heard marveled at these shepherds and what they had to say. I wonder, though, how many didn't even bother to listen to what the shepherds had to say because, well, they were just shepherds. How many reacted like the people in the parking lot that day at Walmart, who tuned out a young boy's happy exaltations because, well, he was just a kid. We aren't told anything else about the shepherds who first heard about Jesus, but I can't help but think that they were forever changed by the experience. I can imagine them telling the story to family and friends and perfect strangers, over and over again. Each night that they were in the fields with their sheep, they couldn't help but look up into the sky in awe of what they had seen, and perhaps hoped to see something like that again. Who knows if they even lived long enough to see that Jesus did grow up and fulfill the promise the angels had proclaimed to them? Surely the joy of that first Christmas filled their hearts and overflowed in their praises for God. A little Christmas was just what they needed in their lives and probably came at a time they needed it most all alone out in those fields, feeling unloved and unaccepted; wondering what life was really all about and concerned about the state of their country under Roman rule; feeling depressed and oppressed. And then along comes Jesus. Along comes a baby boy who brings joy and peace and goodwill toward all men (and women).
I think we all need a little Christmas, right this very minute! As a nation we have become so divided and many have seemed to have lost their hope, mostly because they have placed their hope in people instead of God. We need a little Christmas to remind us that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of the world and the King of Kings. All of the traditions that come with the Christmas holiday are wonderful and keep the Christmas spirit alive, but they really have more meaning when we remember the reason for Christmas to remember and celebrate the birth of Christ.
So please, decorate your tree and your home. Make baked goods. Buy gifts for families and friends, and if you can, help out a family in need. Hang up the stockings, take the kids to see Santa, go Christmas caroling, take on a role in your church's Christmas play or program. Whatever you do or whatever family traditions you have, do it with joy. Do it with the joy of knowing that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Do it with the joy of knowing that you are loved and accepted and safe in His love. If you don't know Jesus as your Savior, I hope you will consider accepting the best Christmas present ever, the greatest gift of love ever given to mankind by a wonderful, great and merciful God who loves you. He knows you; He created you. He is waiting for you to give Him your heart. He already gave you His over 2000 years ago on a special night in Bethlehem.
Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!
"We Need A Little Christmas"
Haul out the holly
Posted on 12/01/2016 5:43 AM by Susan Nelson
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