Let there be peace everywhere. When Bing Crosby popularized the song “I’ll be Home for Christmas” he was echoing the longing of thousands of soldiers fighting through the harsh winters of World War II. Some did make it home for Christmas, but for most, it was only in their dreams. Christmas is partly about being home with family and dear friends. The separation of miles and circumstances, heartbreak and the loss of a loved one can soon turn a time of celebration into a sad and difficult time for many.
Let there be peace everywhere. When Elvis Presley popularized the song “Blue Christmas” he was echoing the pain of unrequited love—the break-up of two former lovers. The loss of a love brings an inner ache that seems to grow deeper during the holiday season. The empty chair at the family dinner table. The first Christmas sharing the children with another family. The loneliness of a solitary soul. “Blue Christmas” is the name given to a Christian worship service, usually held the night of the winter solstice, for those who have lost loved ones during the year. It is designed to bring peace and comfort.
Let there be peace everywhere. The war in Iraq ended last week and hundreds of our troops are heading for home as fast as possible. “I’ll be Going Home for Christmas” (see the You Tube video) echoes the joy of Christmas, and reminds us of the hardships many endure every day to find peace in our world.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Let there be peace. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
Someone stole Christmas. It was a prominent display, about 12 feet long, of a typical holiday “Merry Christmas” sign set up on a green space down the street from our house. It was nice. It had spotlights and other decorations. It appeared after Thanksgiving and disappeared this past weekend. There was nothing religious about it at all. Someone took “Merry Christmas” in the night, and probably sold it the next day. They made money off of it. Our neighbors were robbed, disappointed and mad. Apparently many people want to make a lot of money off of Christmas.
“Keep Christ in Christmas” was a slogan from my youth. “Jesus is the reason for the season” came along 30 years ago. These were fairly positive reminders to believers. Now we are apparently involved in a “War on Christmas.” Somehow “Happy Holidays” became anti-Christmas. (Just a side note: holidays is the English contraction of holy days.) It would seem the believers in the Prince of Peace should not bicker, or make war, with unbelievers over a Christian holy day. The point is to proclaim the Good News of God’s sacrificial love for all people, not to berate the hapless person who may wish us a happy holiday experience.
Jesus never had a Christmas tree. His tree was a cross. Jesus never wrapped a Christmas present. His gift was the Word made flesh. Jesus never sang a Christmas carol or wished anyone a merry Christmas. His salutation was “follow me.” Jesus never signed a Christmas card. His love was written in red—while we were yet enemies.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Happy holydays. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
For most Decembers a nativity display, or crèche as it is sometimes called, is set up on the Lord’s Supper Table, under a Christmas tree or out in the church foyer. It is a beautiful ceramic with each piece all gleaming white. It was made by Gertrude Harmon and given to the church for the Christmas season of 1973. It is stored, to this day, in its original box with all of the pieces individually wrapped and nestled in a shredded newspaper from the time. All of the individual parts have survived well, until last year.
Last year, as we carefully unwrapped the camels, sheep, donkey and cow; the shepherds, wise men and angels; Mary, Joseph, the stable and the manger—the baby Jesus had disappeared. We searched in all of the old shredded news and foam wrappings multiple times. A search party looked in the various nooks and crannies of the stored Christmas stuff. Jesus was missing. Had he been lost in the aftermath of Christmas? Was he someone’s souvenir or had he been thrown out with the trash?
We pressed ahead with an empty manger, but some of us knew Christmas Day was coming, and someone just might notice. The grandmother of one of our members had made a similar set, so they lent us their mangered Jesus for the Christmas Eve service. After Christmas we were given a duplicate manger, but this one has a molded baby already in the hay. It was carefully wrapped and put away. When we set up the scene this year, we unwrapped the old empty manger but the new manger with Jesus was missing again. He was found a few days later in a “safe place” where no one remembered putting him.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Don’t lose Jesus in Christmas. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.