And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths and laid Him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Luke 2:7 (ESV)
Series Focus: “The Hope of Christmas”
Christmas is almost here! There are many reasons I love this time of year, but I’m curious about what Christmas means to you. Are there traditions you keep? Special dishes you prepare? Or maybe visit with family and friends you only see this time of year? All of this and more makes Christmas time so wonderful. But, sister, guard your mind and heart, because amid of all the hustle and bustle, cookie baking, and parties, we do not want to forget the incredible reason we gather to celebrate. Jesus Christ—The Hope of Christmas.
When I was a little girl, I was in a Girl Scout troop. Our troop leader was my very own mama. She organized the most festive activities for us all year long, especially at Christmas. I can still feel the joy of the season when I think back on those days. One of my favorite ventures was Christmas Caroling through various neighborhoods in our community. Our caroling would almost always conclude in the halls of the town hospital. Singing to those who couldn’t be with their loved ones during this season certainly helped us realize the value of health and family. It seems like yesterday they heard a choir of young girls singing “Away in the Manger,” “Jingle Bells,” or “Joy to the World.” We saw a lot of smiles and a few tears those nights. (Thanks mama.)
But on one night, many years ago, some shepherds in a field fell on their knees and heard the angels’ voices—singing! What a divine night!
“O Holy night, the stars are brightly shining, it is the night of the dear Savior’s birth; Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
‘Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn;”
(“O’ Holy Night”—composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847.)
It wasn’t until recently this song became a favorite Christmas Carol. The truth in the lyrics fills me with deep emotion. Over the years, my husband would play this on our piano. He sang these words that proclaimed the birth of our Savior and God’s hope for humanity:
“Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is Love and His gospel is Peace;
Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother, And in his name all oppression shall cease, Sweet hymns of joy in grateful Chorus raise we; Let all within us praise his Holy name!” (O’ Holy Night)
If you are like me, you grew up singing about Rudolph, Frosty, and probably even the Grinch. Those songs are fun and easy for children to learn and recite. This year, I encourage you to experience some carols you may not be as familiar with. Listen to the lyrics. Let’s proclaim to all that Jesus Christ is born!
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased! Luke 2:11-14 (ESV)
Experience the HOPE of Christmas by loving one another, abiding in His love, and spreading the Peace of Christ. Take some time each day to reflect on the beauty of the celebration, just as the shepherds did so long ago. Breathe, sit quietly (or sing aloud) and worship your King.
Fall on your knees. Praise His name. Love His people. Receive His peace.
Holding Fast to Hope,
Scripture References: Luke 1:26-33, 2:9-20; Psalm 46:10, Hebrews 12:28