Friday, December 9, 2011

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

One of my favorite Christmas songs is, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”. I can be grouchy, tired, hungry, whatever, and then that song comes on and suddenly I’m energized and happy. The lyrics and upbeat music remind me of everything good in this world. Images of cheerful visits with close friends and eating warm toasty marshmallows, or caroling out in the snow, can’t help but put a smile on my face.

There are some lyrics in that song that touch on the true meaning of Christmas, yet we usually skim over them: “tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago”. These words refer to Jesus’ glorious birth, more than 2,000 years ago.

Go back with me, for just a moment, to that night. Imagine you are one of several shepherds, sprawled out on the hillside in the dark with your sheep. You are softly chatting with each other in an attempt to stay awake and alert to a hungry wolf or a prowling thief. Suddenly, the sky changes and a “being” appears engulfed in a luminous glow. This radiant angel tells you not to be afraid, (yeah, right) and proceeds to give you a message. You are barely able to breathe, and dare not blink, suddenly extremely grateful for the other shepherds nearby. As the angel begins to speak it slowly dawns on you…this message is not bad news. Rather, it’s the extreme opposite; the fulfillment of prophecy spoken hundreds of years ago:

“I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger,” (Luke 2: 10-12).

Still staring in awe-struck wonder at this angel before you, you struggle to comprehend his wonderful message that the long awaited Messiah is here. When, suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests,” (Luke 2:13-14).

No one knows how many a great company of the heavenly host is, but we can be sure it was a whole bunch. Battalion after battalion lit up the night sky; their shouts and acclamations of praise bounced off the hills and filled the valleys. If you could have moved your feet, you would have seen that you were surrounded by them.

Goosebumps continually rolled over your skin and the hair on the back of your neck seemed to stand at attention as you became immersed in their praises, “Glory to God in the highest!”

Moments later, with your head back and your jaw still hanging open, you witnessed the last angel disappear up into heaven as the sky become dark again. For a few seconds, no one moves or speaks. And then… everyone speaks at once, reliving and replaying the event over and over again. Without asking each other, it was agreed to head straight to Bethlehem so you could “see this thing the Lord had told you about” (Luke 2:15).

When you arrive in Bethlehem you find Mary and Joseph. You quickly look down, and behold… the baby lying in the manger… just as you were told.

You tell everyone you know, day after day, of this heavenly announcement, until gradually the story evolves into a yearly celebration. Even when you are elderly, your face still lights up when you relive the story…making that anniversary celebration truly the most wonderful time of the year!

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life,” (John 3:16).

In His Love,

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