Christmas celebrations were filled with all of these in my childhood home. We attended family gatherings for both my mom’s and my dad’s side of the family. These family times occurred sometime during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, and in true North American tradition, included a tables full of delicious food. One aunt and uncle on my mom’s side had eleven children, and there were ten children in my dad’s family. I was surprised to learn, years later, that many families were not blessed with such large, noisy Christmas dinners.
Travelling with my friends in a caravan of cars to sing carols for the shut-ins of our church congregation is one of my favourite teenage memories. We usually visited the elderly who could not attend service very often. I trust that the carols we sang brought as much joy to their hearts as it did to ours. Each stop usually ended with a Christmas cookie or two thanking us for making time for them.
Our North American culture has fostered the desire for us to draw close to family and friends during the holidays. No matter what our spiritual beliefs are, it seems that being with family and close friends is the most important aspect of the Christmas Season.
Mary and Joseph, however, had to leave their families that first Christmas season. They had to travel away from what was familiar. They did not have the joy and comfort of family and friends around them to celebrate the birth of the new precious little one placed in their care. They were alone, possibly cold, hungry and very tired. Not in the state of mind for celebrating anything, let alone the birth of the Son of God, the King of Israel.
Not far away, on a hill near Bethlehem, there was a celebration underway that would soon spill over into the foul-smelling, dirty barn where Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus were spending the night. There were shepherds caring for their sheep just outside of Bethlehem, probably very tired at the end of the day. Some were probably sleeping, while a few stood guard against preying animals. Scripture describes the scene this way:
Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.” Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people He favors! “ Luke 2:9–14 (HCSB)
A multitude of angels raised joyful voices proclaiming the birth of Jesus. Their celestial choir delivered a heavenly message that penetrated the shepherd’s ears, and hearts. For hundreds of years the Jews had been waiting for their Promised Messiah, and the angels told these humble shepherds that He had finely been born.
Singing and music have been vital components of the Christian’s Christmas celebrations for centuries. But today there is an effort to silence the songs that speaks of Christ’s birth. Join me this Christmas season as we celebrate Christ’s birth with song and music. Don’t let the spiritual carols and songs be lost, and don’t let the message of Christ’s birth be silenced. The message of that first “Silent Night” is needed by each person today, just as much as it was needed at the time of Christ’s birth.
To those who feel desperately alone this season, I encourage you to go to God’s Word and read of Christ’s birth in the first chapters of Luke. Then read of Christ’s life in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Jesus Christ is able to fill the void in your life. He wants you to be part of His family. He wants to be your best friend. Scriptures declares to us:
“…but there is a friend who stays closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24 (HCSB)
Jesus can give you the family you need. He wants to be the friend you deserve. He wants to bring joy into your life so you will have a song to sing.
Debi Snider... more