Perhaps I have watched one too many Hallmark Christmas specials, or maybe I have just seen too many advertisements for Christmas presents. Anyway, I am bound and determined at this point to proclaim the real meaning of Christmas, as it is now here upon us.
Honestly, I watched the other day as a good friend of mine actually wept when people she knew and cared about just didn't seem to understand that this holiday is more than turkey and presents and family visitations, and my heart bled for her as I felt her pain.
It all starts before Halloween with stores and catalogs stocking shelves and keeps on escalating until I almost can't stand the colors red and green and I just want to barf the next time I see a commercial proclaiming that I must purchase this item for my loved one or they will be forever scarred.
I remember the story of the gift of the Magi where a poor, loving young husband and wife sell the only valuable things they own to give each other special Christmas gifts. Delia Young sells her beautiful hair to buy Jim a platinum watch chain, and Jim sells his heirloom watch to buy Delia some tortoise-shell hair combs. These gifts are useless, in one sense; Delia cannot wear her combs without her hair, and Jim, without his watch, cannot use his watch chain. However, these gifts are not useless when you consider the love and generosity with which they were given.
As wonderful a story as this is, it does not even come close to the real meaning of Christmas. Nor do any of the lovely movies made for the Hallmark channel. You see, the real meaning of Christmas doesn't come from a store or a credit card, or even a banquet and there is only one true Christmas story and it is found in Luke 2: 1-20.
"In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while [a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
"So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.'
"Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.'
"When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, 'Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.'
"So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told."
God sent His Son into the world in order to save the world. He sent Him as a mere Baby who seemingly had nothing going for him, yet, He was blessed beyond measure. God sent His Son into the world so that we might be reconciled with God; so that we would have hope in our lives and for that time after our lives on this earth are finished.
God sent His Son into the world so that we could know the real meaning of Christmas, which is love.