By L&T Columnist Gary Damron
One of the churches we served had a day care, directed by a lady named Thelma whose birthday would have been this past week. She’d find ‘holidays’ and then lead the children in observing things like National Hamburger Day, with burgers cooked on the patio. Even her own birthday was dubbed National Ding-a-Ling Day, so the day care children would help her celebrate by wearing wacky clothes or hair.
When my wife was teaching toddlers in Sunday school, one little guy would rush in every week saying, “Oh, let’s glue and glitter!” Therefore a couple of months leading up to Christmas they’d work on cut-out stars slathered in glue and sparkling with gold, silver and colored glitter to hang around the manger scene. He learned early, as the Christmas story was discussed and his hands were busy making stars that the birth of Christ was something creative and beautiful - and fun to celebrate.
As happens too often these days, I attended the funeral Saturday for a lady we knew well. Julie was positive, energetic, and a catalyst for good things in her community. Photos of her as a little girl were cute, and in high school she was very pretty, and as she grew older with the rest of us her sparkle, smile and zest for living remained the same. Her obituary read, “She has gone home to be with her Lord.” Because of faith her family and hundreds of friends were able through tears to celebrate the life she’d been given.
Throughout the Old Testament are verses instructing the Israelites to celebrate the Passover, the festivals of Tabernacles, of Unleavened Bread, of Weeks and Trumpets – all annually, and some of which went on for days. It wasn’t a suggestion or an option, but rather a command that they gather and commemorate times in their history when God had provided deliverance, plentiful harvest or other blessings.
With Christmas drawing near, remembering the event in Bethlehem is important. A pastor this Sunday noted that the message brought by the angels was to shepherds, some of the lowest in their society along with prostitutes and tax collectors. Those fellows were awake and responsive when presented the best news the world had ever received:
Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger (Luke 2:10-12).
This Christmas, rather than focusing on problems or shortfalls, we can gaze on the Baby as the shepherds did, with adoration and wonder. The Bible is sometimes hard for folks to understand, but Jesus coming as a baby makes sense. Such a gift brings a simple message to those longing for a word of hope. As you sing carols, wrap presents and gather with family, truly celebrate life this Christmas season.