To recall the real meaning of Christmas

By Debra Whittington

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, Isaiah 9:6.

During this season of the year one of my favorite pastimes is watching Christmas movies. Family and friends tease me about watching them. The other day some friends were coming to visit and I put on the DVD of It’s a Wonderful Life. My friend rolled her eyes when I told her I put it in just for her. She claims I can even quote the dialogue from the movie. She is almost right; I miss a word here and there.

These movies tell a story and convey a message of hope as well. We learn how a person’s life affects so many others. Others tell that no matter how despondent we may be, there is always hope and miracles really occur. Still others relay the message that although things may not work out as we planned, our attitude toward our circumstances goes a long way in helping us cope with life.

The ones I like the best are those that tell the Christmas story. What starts as an entertaining tale ends up with the message of the real reason for celebrating Christmas. With the focus on gifts, Santa Claus, parties and renaming Christmas Trees as “Holiday Trees” so many try to take away the real meaning of Christmas.

In the 1947 movie The Bishop’s Wife, the message is conveyed by the bishop played by David Niven. In the closing moments of the movie he is sharing his Christmas Eve message with the congregation. “Tonight I want to tell you the story of an empty stocking.” Once upon a midnight clear there was a child’s cry. A blazing star hung over a stable and wise men came with birthday gifts. We haven’t forgotten that night down the centuries — we celebrate with gifts, especially gifts. All the stockings are filled, that is, except one, and we have even forgotten to hang it up. The stocking for the child born in the manager. It is His birthday we are celebrating. Don’t let us ever forget that.”

It is so easy to get caught up in the excitement of the season with all the activities that go along with it. Young children and adults alike are thinking about giving and receiving gifts. Many are already eyeing the presents under the tree they will open on Christmas morning. From the first gifts given by the wise men so long ago, gifts remain an important part of the observance of Christmas.

And yet, it is still the baby born in the manger that should take center stage in our observance of Christmas. This morning I went to the hospital to visit a friend who just gave birth to a little girl. She was holding her newborn baby in her arms and her husband was standing by the bed grinning from ear to ear. She had a serene look on her face as she gazed into the face of her daughter. I told her that there was a certain glow about her and she looked more beautiful than I had ever seen her before. There was something about a new little life that transformed all who were in the room and radiated love to all.

Later, I thought once again about the Christ child born in a manger so many centuries ago. “And she brought forth her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7). I imagine that Mary glowed with love toward her child and possibly Joseph grinned as he looked upon the new baby. I wonder about the shepherds who visited the child and later the wise men who came to worship. I am sure that all of them felt love from the Christ child.

Don’t let us ever forget that Christmas is all about the birth of the child born in the manger in Bethlehem so many centuries ago. As the days until Christmas slip away, let us stop and ponder what that baby did for us. He didn’t remain a baby, but grew into a man who was also divine. Finally, He gave the greatest gift of all, His very life so we might have salvation through believing and accepting Him as Savior.

His gift is the gift that keeps on giving and makes every day Christmas for those who receive Him. If you haven’t done so already, accept His gift of salvation today. May all who read this, have a very blessed Christmas.