Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Spirit of Christmas

In our house I have taken on the responsibility of opening all the Christmas cards that we receive. Each day when I get home from work I zip them open and read them to my wife. She knows that I like to read them so she leaves them for me on the counter until I get home.

I have noticed a few things about Christmas cards. Some people just sign them and let the printed message do the talking, Others write short little notes. Some people include letters, documenting family vacations, births, deaths and weddings and others simply send a picture postcard. No signature, no envelope, just a card with images on it.

As I was opening the cards we received yesterday I noticed something that made me stop and think for a bit. Let me show you the messages on the cards and see if you can discover the same thing I did.

The first card said, "Many good wishes for Christmas and the coming year." There was a gold ornament on the cover . . . and there was glitter. I hate glitter. It gets everywhere. I will still be seeing it after the snow melts I'm afraid.

The second card had the picture of a snowy church on the cover. There were cardinals in pine trees and it was snowing. Pretty. Inside the card read, "Sending you Christmas blessings and wishing you a joyous new year." Nice. A little better than the first (no glitter) but still missing something.

The third card featured a picture of a lighthouse with a big word "Peace" on the cover. "May the Spirit of Christmas lighten your heart and bring happiness in the coming year." Catchy. But a lighthouse for Christmas? Well, there was a wreath on it.

A fourth card had an old farm house and a barn on the front with a rising full moon and snow-covered  lawn. Inside the card there were these words. "THE SPIRIT OF THE SEASON RESTS IN THE STILLNESS OF A WINTER'S NIGHT." Really? Is that where the spirit truly rests?

I paused for a moment before opening the fifth of the five cards we had received. Finding myself somewhat sad I thought to myself, "I feel just like Charlie Brown asking his friends if anyone knew what the true meaning of Christmas was.

The fifth card was from a friend and a member of the church I worship at. I had hope that perhaps THIS card would contain the Christmas greeting I was longing to hear. My friend did not disappoint. :)

"For unto us is born a Savior."

Thank you Larry and Char!

What has happened to Christmas, my friends? It certainly is not what it once was. But what happened to it? Does the true meaning of Christmas even exist anymore in the hearts and minds of me? Yes, there are some that embrace it's true meaning but that number seems to be getting less and less these days.

Certainly Christmas still exists. It's on the calendar after all. But the true meaning of Christmas has changed somehow - morphed into something new. New, but not necessarily better. Still, the TRUE Spirit of Christmas CAN be found if you know where to look for it.

Friday night I was surfing the satellite dish guide and came across an old movie - the 1938 version of A Christmas Carol. It was an old black and white production but it showed me something about the TRUE Spirit of Christmas. Bob Cratchit had just been fired from his job by his boss Ebeneser Scrooge. Mr. Cratchit was moping along on his way home, probably trying to figure out what he was going to tell his wife, when something happened to him. He took his final earnings and bought his family a wonderful Christmas dinner . . . with a smile on his face.

A Christmas Carol (1938 Version)

The Spirit of Christmas is still out there. We just have to search a little longer, a little harder, to find it these days. May this Christmas find your search for its true meaning a successful one. Jesus is the reason for the season, He is the source of Christmas. He IS Christmas. Any pretenders offering Christmas in lighthouses and colorful birds on trees are not offering the true meaning of Christmas. They might be pretty and catching to our eyes. But the true meaning of Christmas is Jesus. It is found in the Christ-child, born on one VERY holy night.

May you find the true meaning of Christmas this year . . . in your hearts. And may God be praised for this most-precious of gifts . . . His one and only son.

O Holy Night - Josh Groban & The Nativity Story

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." - Isaiah 9:6 (prophesied 700 years before the birth of Christ)

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