“At one time most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I’ve grown old the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe” (from The Polar Express).
It would be very easy to turn Christmas into a season for shopping. It would be so very easy to get caught up in Black Friday deals and Cyber Monday sales and racking up debt on credit cards to buy more stuff for people who don’t really need it.
Don’t get me wrong. I like me some presents. I like giving them AND I like receiving them. But if that’s all it’s about, then there will always be a colossal letdown on December 26.
Christmas is more than presents and food and tacky Christmas sweaters. Christmas is even more than family gathered together in one place for one night, reliving memories and celebrating together.
Christmas is about the impossible becoming possible. Christmas is about the miracle of God becoming flesh, being born into our world as a helpless infant boy. I love the imagery I heard when someone said that Jesus came to us as the lowliest of the lowly so that he could lift us up from beneath.
That’s what Christmas is all about (in the immortal words of Linus). Christmas is believing that Jesus came for you and me. That when we couldn’t find a way to God, he found a way to us.
I love the sermon at the end of The Bishop’s Wife, a classic Christmas movie:
“Tonight I want to tell you the story of an empty stocking.
Once upon a midnight clear, there was a child’s cry, a blazing star hung over a stable, and wise men came with birthday gifts. We haven’t forgotten that night down the centuries. We celebrate it with stars on Christmas trees, with the sound of bells, and with gifts.
But especially with gifts. You give me a book, I give you a tie. Aunt Martha has always wanted an orange squeezer and Uncle Henry can do with a new pipe. For we forget nobody, adult or child. All the stockings are filled, all that is, except one. And we have even forgotten to hang it up. The stocking for the child born in a manger. Its his birthday we’re celebrating. Don’t let us ever forget that.
Let us ask ourselves what He would wish for most. And then, let each put in his share, loving kindness, warm hearts, and a stretched out hand of tolerance. All the shining gifts that make peace on earth.”