A crystal punchboal sparkles in the candlelight…
Tree lights reflect a spectrum on the windowpane…
Visions of sugarplums dance in the children’s dreams…
A spontaneous embrace is filled with grateful affection…
The warmth of a relationship is renewed by a simple greeting card…
Mom and Dad share a deep closeness as they watch their children
playing with new toys…
Potpourri fills the house with the scent of the season…
Cider tingles on the tongues of carolers just finishing their rounds…
Loved ones, filled with lazy satisfaction following the holiday dinner, surround the hearth…
The season is here, and joy comes wrapped in music, decorated with ornaments, packaged in presents.
What is the explanation for all this? Where is the fountainhead from which this Christmas joy pours forth, flooding our year-end with such splendor? It’s my conviction that Christmas is unmatched by any other holiday because its source is an unsurpassable event.
We write new songs, trying once more to express its hope. We exchange gifts, not because commercial interests have triumphed, but because affection, appreciation, and unselfishness have. We feast together and offer candies and cakes because something has happened that has made life fuller and sweeter.
The cynic or materialist may attribute it all to a human propensity for overindulgence. But a deeper-than-human source has ignited the bright celebration of Christmas and, like no other season, it summons our best efforts at festivity and draws us toward our highest efforts in worshipping God; showing kindness to the needy, taking time to touch the afflicted, and reaching to touch those dear to us.
As a Christian, I find the fountainhead of Christmas joy in the event which is responsible for this annual explosion of love. It is found in these words trumpeted by the leader of a contingent of troops at the direction of God Almighty:
“Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For there is born to you you this day a Savior!” – Luke 2:10-11
This angelic message is not just announcing the birth of a baby; it’s a joy-announcement for everyone! In these words, God is getting the attention of people living in the middle of their “everydays.” The shepherds “keeping watch by night” were not country bumpkins subject to concocting fairy tales, nor were they superstitious dimwits inventing angel-visions out of stardust. To the contrary, these were weathered cattle rangers guarding against rustlers and poachers. They were right-down-to-reality guys who were suddenly confronted with a new realm of life—and it sent them on a search that changed their lives forever!
“GREAT JOY!” That was the message.
“TO YOU…TODAY!” That was the subject and the time.
Every year Christmas glows with that promise as God seeks to get our attention by means which too many fail to associate with Him: JOY. And wrapped up in the love-Gift He has given us is the “giving” we all need most—FORgiving. Because all of us are victims of hurt and misunderstanding, we need to BE forgiving; because we all fail, we need to ASK forgiveness.
“Unto you…this day…a SAVIOR!”
Here is a magnanimous offer of life unpolluted by that which most erodes our joy. A Savior can remove both the pain and guilt caused by our human fallibility, and fill those who receive Him with sweet new life.
I give due respect for all the explanations social analysts may give for the reason Christmas “burst out all over.” And I extend appropriate graciousness toward any who hold differing convictions about the Savior whom Christmas announces. But the fountainhead of Christmas joy cannot really be explained on other than transcendent terms. For it all to have such impact, last so long, accomplish so much good, and bring forth so much love, its source has to be higher than human. As noble as we humankind may be at our best, our alter ego—our worst—dogs our trail and stains our history. Our highest holidays are not the birthdays of our champions, but the high days created by God’s intervention into our world.
And so this season, let me invite you to lift a toast to the One who has come among us to show us Life, bring us Love, and free us from all that curses our race. Drink at the fountain of His joy, and make the words of the very first carol your own: “Unto ME, TODAY, a Savior!”
Drink to that, and you’ll not only drink from Christmas’ true fount of joy, but you can drive home afterwards—yourself.
Copyright 2007, 2010 by Jack W. Hayford, Jack Hayford Ministries
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