Comment from Ken: Christmas is the happiest time of year when many differences seem to disappear –may that truly be so this year of 2017.
Scripture John 1: 14
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
Also in your Bible Luke 2: 1 – 14
Last night, I finally installed a VCR that we had purchased at least a month ago. Always timid about technology, I had hesitated to confront what could be a trying project. It was, surprisingly, one of the easiest tasks I have confronted as a matter of fact. Everything went well and with a little guidance from Dale, it was programmed in a short time, and we sat down to share the movie that we had chosen to watch. What movie? It was Miracle on 34th Street. We watched a Christmas movie for I wish to be prepared for the Christmas season.
Now I am fully aware that most people do not like to hurry holidays, seasons, or special events. Many complain that Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas items are put on display in our stores long before the event is to occur. My aunts and my mother would not talk about Christmas before Thanksgiving. I can remember them complaining if the department stores were decorated long before Thanksgiving. However, I also remember my mother ready to celebrate Christmas at the farm long before Christmas Day. We did not go to the farm in Barrington at Christmas time for the farm was not centrally heated, and it was too cold to go celebrate the holidays in New Hampshire. So as my mother wished to feel what it would be like, one year in August or perhaps September we put up a Christmas tree in the farm, decorated it, and enjoyed a Christmas dinner together.
We also celebrated an early Thanksgiving one year as my brother Bill was home from the service, and my mother wished to have him enjoy a Thanksgiving Day at the farm. But this is not my point as we walk together today. We are not out scouting for a Christmas tree – what we are looking for on our walk is a sense of serenity and peace in our tumultuous times. It is my belief that we need Christmas early this year for we need the joy and thoughtfulness that surrounds us at Christmas.
It is difficult to listen to the morning or evening news for the news overwhelms us with its focus on all the problems that face us as a country and as individuals. We have seen the terrible devastation that has taken place with several hurricanes hitting the United States and Puerto Rico. We are made aware that some people will not have electricity for months to come. We saw the results of an earthquake in Mexico, and we hear the angry rhetoric that comes from the leader of North Korea. We hear of tension in Spain and how terrorists all over the world can cause pain and suffering. We seem to be surrounded by division and tragedy. That is why this pastor needs Christmas in his life all year round.
Our Christian faith teaches us that God saw the plight of humankind. He, in infinite love and compassion, reached out to remove our separation from Him to a new relationship of understanding and love. Christmas is the story of Jesus’s birth, what is called the incarnation, to bring a dark world into the pure light of God. That love of God through Jesus Christ is what has carried this pastor through times of strife, illness, and sadness. I look back over fifty-seven years of trying my best to be a good pastor, and I am so grateful to God for Christmas. Whenever I have been lost in a foggy, dark time of confusion and suffering, I have always been able to see a dim light grow strong if I focus on the story of Christmas.
It has been sad to witness that for many people Christmas has just become a secular holiday, not a religious one. As a child in public school, Christmas was a time of such happiness and joy. We decorated our school windows with the symbols of Christmas. On our last day of school before Christmas vacation, we had a Christmas party with ice cream, and we sang Christmas carols. Ms Reamon, the assistant superintendent of our school system, came to school and told beautiful Christmas stories to all grades gathered in our assembly hall. Our country still respected religious differences but we were a Christian nation and we did not need to deny our faith.
Every October I wish I had made Christmas gifts for my family in my shop during the year. But I learned many years ago that it is too late in October to do so, you need to start right after Christmas if those presents are to be completed for the holiday. But that is all right I will still have a few presents that I made for others and God willing there will be another year to begin earlier, like on January first of the new year.
So I will continue to listen to Christmas carols during the year – we will keep candles in our windows all year that proclaim that Jesus is the light in the darkness and the guide for us in those dark times. I love my joyous memories of Christmas past and look forward to Christmas present and to future. All year long, I will give thanks to God for the birth of our Savior who brought us love, peace, and reconciliation to God the Father. If only we would listen and live by His teachings, why then it would truly be Christmas all year long.
Prayer: Dear God, be with us as we move into the time of year of holidays and faith. May Jesus so dwell in our hearts each and every day so the good will that comes with the Christmas season may be with us each and every day. Thank you, God, for Jesus Christ our Lord; in His name. Amen.
Until we walk together again – “May the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other.”